The Death of Russia - TL

All is Well
  • EDIT: The extended version of this timeline is now available on Amazon.

    The Death of Russia

    All is Well

    Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi

    Those heady days of 1989, 1991. We thought we’d escaped it. Escaped the third and final cataclysm of the Twentieth Century. True, we avoided the Third World War between the nations but we saw the Third World War within a nation. Or more accurately, between the many nations of one doomed country. We watched, unable to do anything, as the ghosts of dead empires rose to damn the living. The scenes just years ago of crowds in jubilation at the dawn of unending freedom of Europe were erased from our minds. Now all we saw were the lonely bodies of emaciated villagers line the streets of abandoned villages slowly hide under the Siberian snow. Just as ‘1914’ and ‘1939’ chill our blood, perhaps it was the destruction of our dreams that made the year ‘1993’ so much more chilling.

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    Contrary to popular imagination, Yeltsin’s overthrow was not the spark that kicked off a wave of Post-Soviet bloodshed, but only the latest in a string of violence. Armenia and Azerbaijan were fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, Tajikistan was in the midst of a brutal Civil War, Georgia was fighting an independence movement in Abkhazia that was aided by Russia and Transnistria had just been formed from the Russian intervention in Moldova. And of course, Yugoslavia had already torn itself apart in a wave of ethnic violence that would eerily foreshadow what was to come. At the same time, there were many territorial disputes that seem almost quaint now. Sevastopol was a bone of contention for the Russians in Ukraine, there were Russian troops in the Baltics and Warsaw Pact states and many of those states were trying to join NATO to mixed reception in the US. Perhaps most importantly for the fate of the region, the nuclear weapon question regarding Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan remained unresolved.

    But the main thing that the average man on the street thought about was, of course, the escalating economic and social collapse that had swept the Post-Soviet states. The pain in the Warsaw Pact nations was one thing, but for the Soviet states (especially the three core East Slavic states of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) their economies had not only been thoroughly centrally planned practically to the street telephone box, but they had no one who remembered a time when anything but Communism was in charge, unlike the Poles, Hungarians, or even the Balts. Consequently, the pain was increasingly intense as one moved east over the old Communist Bloc, with only the Lenin statues as the Ozzymandias style ruins of the Soviet Empire. Inflation was indescribable, the ordered streets had vanished into a free-for-all of gangsters of all levels of thuggery. The ethnic hatreds that had simmered for decades in silence roared out in a wave of racist attacks on non-Slavic citizens in Russia especially. The class hatreds once extinguished by the equal distribution of misery under Communism was renewed as corrupt privatisation practices left millions of ordinary Russians short-changed while a new class of parasitic oligarchy was founded from the most corrupt recesses of the Communist party and literal criminals. To add insult to injury, the new Oligarchs stored their wealth in Swiss banks and ensured none of it would be invested in the country they robbed from. In 1992 alone, the GDP contracted by an unimaginable 14.5%.

    This gave renewed life to both the Communist and Fascist movements inside Russia, and weakened the already decaying support democracy had and needed to function in Russia. The situation is often compared to Weimar Germany in how it fundamentally made Russians lose faith in the concept not just of Capitalism but democracy in general, much like the hyperinflation and political chaos of Weimar Germany reinforced many Germans’ desire for authoritarianism. Like Weimar Germany a thriving free-speech atmosphere pervaded the streets as people were finally able to openly speak their minds without fear of persecution, but this was to be cut tragically short.

    The main political warfare in 1993 was between two groups: President Boris Yeltsin and his cabinet (who were seen as responsible for the economic tailspin) and the Russian Parliament. The latter was supported by the banned National Salvation Front, a Frankenstein alliance of convenience between the racist reactionary Right and dictatorial Communist Left. Yeltsin accused the Parliament of being unreformed Communists while Parliament accused him of consolidating power. Both cast themselves as the defenders of a democracy that wouldn’t exist within the year. One of the chief architects of the economic reforms, Yegor Gaidar, was removed from the position of acting Prime Minister by the now resistive Parliament. Smelling blood in the water after the Supreme Court ruled Yeltsin’s attempts to block Parliament unconstitutional, the Parliament attempted and failed to impeach Yeltsin in March 1993, leading to the new Chairman of Parliament Ruslan Khasbulatov to propose a series of referendums to resolve the question of whether the President or Parliament would yield. Despite the results generally going in the direction the Yeltsin camp wanted, the Supreme Court ruled the results to have had an insufficient turnout to be binding.

    Some believe that the Second Russian Civil War began as early as May 1st 1993, when a joint group of Communist and Far-Right protestors clashed with the police, leading to one policeman being killed. But the events that escalated the disintegration of the Russian Federation could be said to have become unstoppable on September 1st 1993 after another failed attempt to reconcile between Yeltsin and Parliament, as Yeltsin unconstitutionally fired Vice-President Alexander Rutskoy on fraudulent corruption charges and began criminal proceedings. Another attempt to impeach Yeltsin by appealing to the Supreme Court was met with Yeltsin making a televised address on September 21st, where he announced that he had dissolved the Parliament and Supreme Court by Presidential Decree. Needless to say this move was not recognised by Parliament, who declared that Rutskoy was now acting President. Over the next few days, chaos erupted in the streets as Pro-Yeltsin and Pro-Parliament protestors fought it out.

    Until October 3rd it was unsure which side would win the stand-off. Parliament was holed up inside a White House that had been disconnected from water and electricity. But one factor that had not been discussed was the military, which continued to bide its time in the shadows, still refusing to declare for either side, though it was fair to say that up until then they were nominally for Yeltsin. This was, naturally, dependent on the country remaining relatively split on the issue and not swinging hard on the side of Parliament.

    Unfortunately for Yeltsin, on the night of October 3rd, everyone in the country would know that his time was up.

    Extract from interview with Benjamin Rich, aka Bald and Bankrupt

    Interviewer: “You’ve made a name for yourself on Youtube exploring Post-Communist Europe. Can you tell us your first experience going to that part of the world?”

    B&B: “Well, would you believe it, a bright, barely-able-to-speak-a-word-of-Russian 19 year old me was actually in Moscow in the middle of the standoff between Yeltsin and the Supreme Soviet.”

    Interviewer: “No way! Thank God you got out.”

    B&B: “I wasn’t so sure I would. On October 3rd I’d actually snuck out of the hotel after the staff were telling us “Do not go outside, it’s too dangerous”. As you can probably imagine I took it to be a sort of challenge so I got out and went near the White House where they’d built a gigantic barricade with hundreds of men with guns all over the place. They let out a big cheer and I now look back and realize that this was the moment when they were telling the crowd that they had to take the TV centre, as well as the City Council building. I stuck around and kept me head down but, I’ll tell you what, there were a lot of moments where I regretted it. About every twenty seconds or something you heard this loud crack coming from near the City Council building, and I knew that all the talk about snipers was true. There were people just lying dead or nearly dead in the middle of the street that I could see in the distance. Eventually they took the City Council building and then they went heading for the TV centre. That’s when the chaos got really intense and I just decided, right, I’m hunkering down here in this alley, it’s madness to go out into that street. And that’s when I saw something that at the time I didn’t really understand but obviously I look back and think ‘Jesus, I was lucky’, both to say I saw him and that he didn’t shoot me. I look out into the street and I see this chap leading the plain-clothes Pro-Soviet gunmen, shooting down the street and presumably hitting somebody. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but obviously when I saw him on the TV that night, I found out that he was Albert Makashov.”

    Interviewer: “You saw Albert Makashov?”

    B&B: “Yeah, small world! Before everyone knew who he was, there was 19 year old Benjamin hiding in some puddle that was probably full of some Gopnik’s piss while the fate of the largest country in the world was blowing up just in front of me! It took another hour or two for me to get moving. I managed to sneak back into the hotel without anyone catching on, thank God. The reason actually was, when I came in, all the staff were watching the TV in disbelief. Turns out that just before I got back, they managed to take the TV station and show all the carnage that police and OMON had been dishing out to everybody. Makashov was there, [Alexander] Nevzorov was there, going on about how Yeltsin was a tyrant and slaughtering the Russian people. They had these horrific, unedited pictures of women that got absolutely blasted to bits by the snipers, even showing some of the protestors getting ran over by tanks. I’d just been out in it but thank God I didn’t go anywhere near the TV centre. That would have been far too bloody dangerous. That’s when I sort of realised what I’d gotten meself into.”

    Interviewer: “What was the reaction from everyone at the time?”

    B&B: “It was madness. I have no idea how much of the staff were on Yeltsin’s side before those scenes were being played on every TV from Kaliningrad to Kamchatka, but afterwards? No, everyone in the hotel just looked absolutely disgusted. I knew then that this wasn’t going to end well for him, and unfortunately little did I know or anyone know that those horrors on the TV were going to look absolutely tame compared to what was about to come.

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    The military had been noticeably quiet in the midst of the carnage in Moscow. That all changed on the night of October 3rd, just hours after the footage of the chaotic slaughter outside the Ostankino TV centre was being played on loop with no censorship. Yeltsin’s orders to block the signal, and even to bomb the station using the air force were ignored. Rutskoy, a former military man, soon found the military swinging to Parliament’s side and offering to remove Yeltsin. The mood in the White House (most certainly not the American one) was restored. The army had, of course, not sided out of some humanitarian concern over the protestors but in loaning themselves out like mercenaries to the highest bidder - after the footage of the bodies went out, Yeltsin’s stock had crashed to zero. The army now sided with the only group that could guarantee them something. As General Pavel Grachev drove a tank under a white flag to the Parliament to publicly proclaim the army’s loyalty to parliament, he pledged to fight the corruption that he practically defined. "All is well, all is well," he assured. As the army now publicly sided with Parliament, and the Pro-Yeltsin protestors vanished into the night, knowing it was now a lost cause, the writing was now thoroughly on the wall for the man who led Russia out of dictatorship.

    As midnight struck, the rats began to flee the ship. Anatoly Chubais, considered the ‘mastermind’ behind the privatisations, sped off from the Kremlin in his car to the airport before Grachev had even finished speaking. Yegor Gaidar had left Moscow even before that in case something like this happened. Viktor Chernomyrdin, the official Prime Minister after having been Gazprom’s leader, was more muted but decided to fly beyond the Urals to friendlier ground. One by one, the cabinet left Yeltsin, until there was only one: Alexander Korzhakov, his old bodyguard. But even Korzhakov would go in the wee small hours of the morning, as Yeltsin sat alone, shattered but unmoving in his semi-inebriated state. As Korzhakov would write in his autobiography, “One curtain as another was pulled open, a tragic rise and fall, followed by what was simply a fall. Though I felt pity for the man before me, pity as he tried to relive 1991 all over again, I could not help but have more pity to the millions who had been let down by his corruption, his greed, his failure to live up to the hopes and dreams of millions of Russians. And if I’d known what all his failures would lead to, I would have stayed in the Presidential Office as it all came crumbling down, both to die before I saw what became of my country, and to gain the pleasure of watching him die.”

    On the morning of October 4th 1993, tanks began to fire on the Kremlin, the intention of Rutskoy and the moderate members of Parliament had been simply to get Yeltsin to come out. However, while they insisted on a more moderate approach, Grachev told them that it wouldn't be necessary and that a few sharp blasts of the tank shells would make him come out. But Yeltsin would not come out, despite the repeated unbelievable scenes of shells slamming into the centre of what was the world’s co-equal premier superpower. It was then that smoke began to billow through the windows. Realising what was happening, a few panicked staff tried to return to the building to convince Yeltsin to come out and surrender, but were held back by soldiers assuming they were trying to aid him in some fashion. By the time the seriousness of the situation was realised, it was already much too late. While it is often alleged that Yeltsin was too inebriated or asleep at the time the fire consumed him, we can never know this for sure, though it did feature in various propaganda stories in the war to follow from many sides. But even if it was true that Yeltsin had perished in such a way, the utter tragedy of a man who risked his life to bring democracy to the Soviet Union, that let the Balts and Ukrainians find their independence, that brought the only form of political freedom that most Russians had ever known in their lives, albeit for a tragically brief moment, is more important than any sneers about what he didn’t do.

    With the death of Boris Yeltsin died Russia’s last chance of becoming a normal democracy. Though many prayed that the violence would now finally relinquish, it was unimaginable how wrong they would be. Though there were so many stages and parties that's it’s almost impossible to say definitively when the war began, most historians are in general agreement: The moment the first tank’s shell slammed into the Kremlin, the Second Russian Civil War Era began.
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    Infobox - October Crisis
  • Alright, there's a fixed version of my infobox. @Sorairo, can you please don't forget to threadmark my infobox post, if you can?
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    Goodbye, Forever
  • Goodbye, Forever

    Extract from ‘The Last Germans in Pushkingrad?’ on the Bald and Bankrupt Youtube Channel

    B&B: “Hello and welcome to the city of … well, we’re going on a Soviet trip so for the next few hours how about we forget about lovely old Pushkingrad and focus on what this place used to be called. No, not Königsberg! I mean Kaliningrad! Named after the famous Soviet politician Mikhael Kalinin, and one of the ‘OG’ Bolsheviks. Taken from the Germans after the Second World War, the German inhabitants were expelled and Russian citizens moved in. After the fall of the Soviet Union, this piece of Russia was completely cut off from the Motherland. Which would, of course, be its saving grace in the years to come. And what does Pushkin have to do with this neck of the world? Nothing, he just wasn’t a Communist! Not that that was much of a trouble when he was alive - there was no Communism! But when the Decommunisation laws started coming in, they needed anyone they could get. A few people, mostly Americans, suggested ‘Yeltsingrad’, but even after the Civil War people still remembered how bad it was under Yeltsin, so they named it ‘Pushkingrad’, because if there’s one thing Russians love, it’s a bit of the ol’ Pushkin. Well, ‘Vodkagrad’ would have been too on the nose, wouldn’t it?”


    B&B: “And behind me right now, this abandoned airfield behind the barbed wire and this bloody grass that rises halfway up to y’er neck, was where on the morning of October 4th 1993, Yegor Gaidar landed in a small plane from just outside Moscow. Unlike Yeltsin, who stayed to the bitter end, Gaidar grabbed what he could, flung it all into the back of the plane and the pilot took off. It was so heavy with everything he’d brought on that the plane was too heavy to take anyone else. So the plane took off, and many of his assistants were left behind … some of them didn’t survive what was to come.”


    B&B: “How’s this for a cheeky monument? ‘The Three Briefcase Statue!’ Three briefcases, beside each other, all open like clams and about the size of a Lada! All of them have something coming out. On the left there’s the Chamomile flower, that’s the national flower. Then there’s a bear paw, coming out of the right side. That’s the national animal, obviously, then in the middle is the Two-headed Eagle, the ancient symbol of Russia that dates back all the way to Byzantium! So what on Earth kind of briefcases were going on ‘ere? Well, the story goes that on October 4th, the word was going round that Yeltsin was dead, everything was in a total uproar. No one knew what to do, but they knew that the Supreme Soviet had won in Moscow. Then in drives Gaidar, he calls in the head of the naval base, the garrison, the police to meet just outside the city hall here, and he says that there’s been a coup in Moscow and that with Yeltsin dead he was the highest ranking member of the Cabinet that hadn’t gone into hiding and that therefore he was, until they found someone else in the cabinet, the rightful successor to Yeltsin. Now, obviously, they all go ‘hang on a minute, they have Moscow, what have you got? Why shouldn’t we just arrest you and hand you back to the Supreme Soviet?’ And supposedly he had three guys come in, each with giant briefcases that they could barely carry and dropped them on the floor to show what was inside. And supposedly all three of the representatives just needed one look at the briefcases to want to listen to whatever Gaidar had to say. Gaidar then said, ‘Look, just help me get the Yanks on the phone - they’ll back me, they’ll say I’m the legitimate government and then ‘they’ won’t touch us, and you can keep the briefcases and maybe a bit more’. That’s all they needed, and so locals like to imagine a more wholesome idea of what was inside those three briefcases. But, come on, what do you think was in ‘em? Or rather, how much?”

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    Yeltsin’s death had not been planned for, certainly not by Khasbulatov or Rutskoy, who had wanted at best a fair and open trial or perhaps an exile. Upon word that the Kremlin had burned with Yeltsin inside, total horror overtook the Parliamentary leaders, as they knew this would emphatically horrify the outer world and a good segment of Russia. Fortunately, most broadcasting facilities around the nation were in the hands of the military who were showing the bodies outside the Ostankino to depress Yeltsin’s support. However, Muscovites could see the damage in person, and were angry at seeing the beloved cultural monument desperately trying to be saved by firefighters that had been delayed due to the tanks and barricades blocking the roads. While the Yeltsinists had been routed only twelve hours before, now they were back, attacking the police, army and, in a great mistake to anyone who tried, Russian National Unity foot-soldiers. While everyone was furious with Grachev that his suggestion had led to Yeltsin’s death, he angrily protested that the decision was ultimately collective and consequently, given the dangerousness of the current situation, had to be blamed on someone lower down the food chain. Debate raged amongst the Parliamentarians as to how they would respond to the killing, with some arguing to announce it was intentional, and others, likely in the throws of confused madness, arguing to say that Yeltsin had actually started the fire as an act of ritual suicide. The situation was further complicated on news that Gaidar had fled to Kaliningrad, proclaiming to be the real Russian government and the Parliamentarians to be usurpers.

    Needing to put their side of the story out to the world, Chairman Khasbulatov and President Rutskoy made a joint television address in the evening of October 4th, explaining the situation, while riots continued in Moscow and spread to St. Petersburg. Feeling the need to assure Western observers that the events did not constitute a return to the Soviet era, they decided to give a half-truth: that there was no intention in Yeltsin’s killing and that they never gave any order for the tanks to fire on the Kremlin, the crew that fired would be arrested to find out where the orders came from, and that on November 14th there would be fresh elections for both the Presidency and Parliament with the constitution to be decided by referendum, whose contents would be decided by those who won the election. If Gaidar was so confident that he was the official representative of the Russian people, he was invited to return and perform in the elections, or so the veiled accusation went. Worried about how an announcement of full nationwide martial law would look, Parliament decided against announcing it in favour of increased military presence in the major cities. They had also already made their ultimate and fatal mistake. In having gone on television to announce and commiserate Yeltsin’s death, they had still taken indirect responsibility for it. The Pro-Yeltsin population of Russia now saw the pair as opportunistic killers who seized power with violence, intentionally or not, with even the ones who had washed their hands of Yeltsin following the footage of the massacre outside the TV station also being disgusted at what happened. The belief in democracy across Russia crumbled, as the two sides that had spent months in the conflict had both discredited themselves in a single day.

    Gaidar likewise made a speech from Kaliningrad that day that only a few people in Russia could access, mainly over the radio. He rallied the Yeltsinists within the country to the late-president’s posthumous side, saying, “He died for you, now what will you do for him? He continued, “Through the centuries and thunderstorms, there is and always was a Russia, unchanged and unchanging. Not the Tsars, the Stalins, the Rutskoys and Khasbulatovs; they come and go. They die and their graves will be coated in the spit of the people who outlived them. But the Russian nation, the Russian people, the Russian soul will outlast time itself!” This speech was enough to simultaneously win over sections of the West that he was a worthy candidate to support, as well as inspire Yeltsinists in Russia into not giving up (though few outside Yeltsin commanded much love from his Cabinet). To the horror of Rutskoy and Khasbulatov, their hopes of a speedy resolution to the crisis had gone up in smoke like the cars of Moscow and St. Petersburg that lined the barricades.

    And this is exactly what others in the Anti-Yeltsin movement had wanted. Because General Grachev had not sided with Parliament at all. He had sided with the National Salvation Front.

    Albert Makashov, who had assumed something of a First Among Equals leadership among the NSF, had been privately negotiating with Grachev and other generals to join the side of the parliamentarians, with Grachev finally agreeing once Ostankino had fallen. But the deal was not simply to side with Parliament, but with the interest of the NSF. Grachev was offered to return to his position of Defence Minister in an NSF government after they won the upcoming election, taking the role from Parliament’s Defence Minister, Vladislav Achalov. Elsewise there was a good chance the Parliamentarians would still seize power and leave Grachev out in the cold. In return for the guarantee of maintaining his role as Defence Minister, all he had to do was ‘spare the doomed President of the indignity of a humiliating public trial, and spare the country of the division it will cause’. Grachev, a friend of Yeltsin, was personally torn by such a demand, which slowly resolved itself as promises of confiscated wealth made the promise of defending Yeltsin’s legacy seem much more compelling. This is what convinced Grachev to suggest the ‘warning shots’ on a Kremlin that was potentially filled to the brim with loyalist guards, which was supported by Makashov. Grachev would also tell soldiers that they would not allow anyone to enter the Kremlin until Yeltsin surrendered, which, of course, was not the plan since Makashov had calculated Yeltsin that would throw himself in harm’s way like 1991 again, except this time he would not ‘play nice’ like the 1991 plotters. Unlike the democrats Khasbulatov and Rutskoy, the NSF wanted Yeltsin out of the scene, and not simply for vengeance’s sake. Many were supporters of the 1991 Coup and felt that the main problem had been the relative reluctance of the 1991 attempt to resort to extreme violence - if they were willing, the country wouldn’t have ended up in this situation. They had correctly gambled that Yeltsin’s death would be blamed on the face of the Parliament while they could bask in the glory of having taken the TV station and facing the injustice outside. In so doing, they had already discredited the Anti-Yeltsin Democrat opposition. In addition, they had ensured an outpouring of violence across Russia, but this had also been part of the plan. They had wanted the Pro-Yeltsin group to rise up chaotically and consequently get crushed before they could reorganize themselves. But they had also wanted to shock and mortify the electorate into believing that the country was on the brink of total collapse and consequently needed ‘strong’ leadership.

    As hoped for by the NSF masterminds, the announcement did little to calm the violence in the streets from Yeltsin’s supporters, who still clashed with the police everywhere. The swiftness of new elections had been decided due to the sense of needing legitimacy after Yeltsin had died. The police were overwhelmed in day and night protests and riots as the army was kept in the barracks. The police began to arrest the Yeltsinist organizers, many with nothing to do with the protests, many on trumped charges to decapitate Yeltsin’s former support base. The police soon found they had powerful allies to tap into, the recently fully legalized paramilitary forces of the National Salvation Front. Unbelievable scenes of RNU troops and ‘Anti-Fascist’ militias ganging up on and stomping Yeltsin supporters began to trickle out of the country. Both forms of militia soon found themselves recruited by overstretched police to deal with the Pro-Yeltsin groups.

    With rapid speed, the whole of Yeltsin’s cabinet either managed to flee to Kaliningrad (including Chernomyrdin) or faced jail (like Viktor Yerin). Despite Gaidar calling Gorbachov and telling him in simple terms, "Run, fool!" Gorbachov refused to leave out of a sense of solidarity with regular Russians. But of course, the most infamous case was perhaps the most deserved. After General Grachev had a meeting with Achalov at the Defence Ministry on October 7th to catch him up to speed with the status of the institution, he maintained high spirits, secretly knowing that he would be back in the same chair for New Year’s. As Grachev walked to his car in the parking lot, another car suddenly drove behind him. Two masked men fired through the windows with machine gun fire, leaving Grachev a half-liquified corpse on the ground. The car would speed off into a Moscow still stricken with riots, easily vanishing into the chaos of the Third Rome. Naturally, his death would be blamed on Pro-Yeltsin resistors, a fact the RNU gunmen in the car took great satisfaction in, even more than the fact they had killed a ‘scheming Yeltsinist’ that was trying to return to power, as they were told by [Alexander] Barkashov. Barkashov was, of course, working as the cat’s paw for the Makashov and the NSF, who still wanted Achalov in power and not a grubby friend of Yeltsin. It’s debated to this day the extent to which Achalov was even aware of the faux scheme to bring Grachev to power. But regardless, with Grachev dead before he could tell anyone of the NSF’s plans and the murder blamed on Yeltsin supporters, Makashov had been able to break Russian democracy without anything to tie it back to himself.

    From October 4th until the end of the year - when the Civil War ratcheted up from a nationwide insurgency to a full military conflict - people were already being killed every day in political violence across Russia. On October 8th, after Grachev’s death, martial law with a curfew was finally declared. This was once more utilized by the NSF to now crush their opposition without having to abide by what the Supreme Court said. By the time of the next election, organized Pro-Yeltsin groups were practically extinct across the mainland. It would be a long time before anyone in mainland Russia would dare speak positively of Yeltsin again, assuming they survived what was to come.

    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’, by Frank Wolfowitz

    The announcement of Yeltsin’s death threw the entire Western geopolitical order into a tailspin. Generic statements about the necessity of negotiation and cooperation seemed ill-fitting when perhaps the most famous and loved Russian on Earth (outside of Russia) perished in a fire many suspected to be deliberate. Yeltsin had given a speech to a joint session of Congress in 1992 and had consequently enjoyed wide love among the American electorate. Now he had perished in an action most Americans (according to Gallup polls) saw as an assassination by Communists to reconstitute the USSR. For now, Yeltsin’s Cabinet had disgraced themselves by ‘running away and abandoning their leader’. A myth survived in the West for years to come, of the tragic hero of Yeltsin who enthusiastically tried to bring democracy to a spoilt, impatient Russian people who expected a Ferrari in their driveway in a few weeks, before the backstabbing politicians undermined him and allowed the truly dark forces of the past to return to power and consume them as well. Mercifully, this myth has slowly died as survivors of the conflict can tell their own stories, though in the relatively closed information space of the pre-internet era, Americans quite simply did not comprehend how bad the situation had already devolved in Russia before Yeltsin died. To them, Rutskoy and Khasbulatov were also part of the ‘Communazis’, which became the word of the year as broader awareness of the NSF crept into the Western public. And to that end, Gaidar’s ‘Taiwan Government’ was considered the ‘good guy’ in the situation who alone deserved full recognition.

    But sheer political necessity dictated that since there was no route for any Pro-Yeltsin group to come to power in mainland Russia for the foreseeable future, the only choice was to lean into the now widely discredited Parliament and try not to ruin the chances of the moderates inside the parliamentarians. To that end, Clinton’s response was to mourn Yeltsin as a friend of America, forcefully condemn the violence while demanding accountability, insist that the Parliament held elections and to continue trying to diplomatically resolve the matter with ‘The Gaidar Administration’. Republicans condemned him for being soft on Yeltsin’s ‘Assassination’, which they correctly summarised was deliberate but not knowing who had done it and who didn’t. They argued that the parliamentarians should be considered illegitimate Communist usurpers and that only Gaidar should be considered the rightful representative of the Russian people. Regardless, to an America that only days ago thought the fear of MAD was behind them, to be plunged back into that purgatory almost immediately cut Clinton at the kneecaps politically. All talk of domestic affairs, ‘It’s the Economy, Stupid’, now seemed a world away from what was the main focus of discussion across the country.

    “Hillary,” he would ask, “how are we supposed to talk about healthcare when the Communazis have nukes?”

    The only thing that it resolved in both the White House and Congress’s minds was that NATO expansion was simply a must. Poland was supremely lucky in that only three weeks before Yeltsin’s death, the last Russian troops left, while Hungary and the Czechs had likewise been free of troops for years. All Clinton had to do to convince the few Democrat holdouts of the need to expand NATO was to describe his phone call to President Wałęsa of Poland where the former Solidarity leader stated that if Poland could not enter NATO with all due haste that it might be forced to develop nuclear weapons. At the same time, they would not announce their support of NATO membership for the Visegrad states before the elections in Russia, as they didn’t want to be accused of needlessly inflaming the Russians just as the ballot boxes were sent out. At the same time there was much debate in the Administration about which nations to add into NATO. While the Poles, Czechs and Hungarians were locked in, there were discussions about Lithuania and Slovakia. Estonia and Latvia were considered impossible because Russian troops still stood on their soil, but Lithuania was lucky enough that all Russian troops had left its soil in August. However, as a Post-Soviet state, it was still considered a seriously risky move. Slovakia was also an issue as the Vladimír Mečiar government had moved in the direction of autocracy and connection to organized crime. Ultimately, it was decided to leave them out for now, but to strongly look at the case a few months from now and see.

    Extract from ‘At Last, it Cannot get Worse: How Russia went Insane’ by Volodomyr Bodnar

    The 1993 election was the first time the Legislature was voted on in Post-Communist times. The prior parliamentarians had mostly been the old Communist Party politicians who had sworn (often halfheartedly) of their change of stance. Russia would however, be denied a free election once more. Pro-Yeltsin groups were viciously suppressed due to claims they were ‘a threat to democracy', while even the Anti-Yeltsin democrats found themselves being attacked by Communist and Fascist groups and intimidated into silence. TV stations were threatened with arrest if they were to air political advertisements from unfavored parties. Many local administrators forbade both independent candidates and party candidates from standing due to fictitious inconsistencies in the application process. The Yabloko Party was simply forbidden wholesale due to its joint leader, Grigory Yavlinsky’s initial support of Yeltsin during the events of October 3rd. When he declared his arrest unconstitutional, he was told by the police that ‘that constitution won’t exist in a month’.

    At the same time, the NSF ran a virulent, forceful campaign that made everyone listen. Vladimir Zhrinovsky, a firebrand nationalist that had recently gone into retirement, came back to endorse the NSF in hopes of a major cabinet post before ultimately winding up with an ‘advisor role’ to the Ministry of Culture, much to his later fury. Until then, Zhrinovsky would make stump speeches with self-described Stalinist Viktor Annapolis, whose Stalinist ‘Russian Communist Worker’s Party’ had joined the NSF alongside the ‘Communist Party of the Russian Federation’ under Genially Zyuganov that he’d gotten into many spats with, who themselves had to get along with the Right-Wing nationalist Russian All-People’s Union Party under relative moderate Sergey Baburin and the National Bolshevik Front under Eduard Limonov along with the Strasserists in the Orthodox Fundamentalist ‘Front of National Revolution’, that had to share bathwater with Alexander Nevzorov, who had his own Fascist paramilitary group in the ‘Nashis’ who were not to be confused with the Neo-Nazi Russian National Unity paramilitary under Alexander Barkashov. To call this bewildering was an understatement. Presiding over this rogue’s gallery was Albert Makashov, who was both Anti-Semitic and Stalinist enough to win over both the right and left of the coalition while having become famous as the leader of the Ostankino raid who broadcast the massacre to the shocked public, though he was more associated with the left. To say the coalition was unwieldy was evident, to say it was doomed was already obvious, though the scale of the implosion was beyond all worst nightmares. The NSF ticket for the elections had Makashov running to be Chairman in Khasbulatov’s place, with Rutskoy’s nationalism being sufficient to earn an endorsement for President by the coalition, in return for a promise to ‘understand the supremacy of Parliament’.

    Khasbulatov came under particularly vicious attack from the NSF’s Right, who used his Chechen ancestry against him whenever they got the chance. “Khasbulatov,” said Eduard Limonov, “will listen not to the Russian people, but to Dudayev! What patriotic Russian among you, would ever kneel before a Black-arse [anti-Chechen slur] like him sitting in the seat of the Tsars?!” Though he was quickly cautioned against such rhetoric by the Left of the Party, many even in that camp were revolted at the idea of a Caucasian as head of ‘Orthodox civilisation’. Khasbulatov was completely unprepared for the ferocity and racial animus of the attacks, which gave perhaps the worst impression one could have given to the voters: weakness. A weak person, it was felt, could not save the country from the implosion that seemed already to be accelerating. Khasbulatov fell into depression as the campaign came to a conclusion, saying ‘I’ve saved Democracy from a buffoon only to hand it over to Demons.`

    On November 14th, the polling stations across the nations were devoid of international observers, but the presence of Nevzorov’s Nashis in St.Petersburg, and Barkashov's RNU troops in Moscow were very noticeable for the average voter. The Pro-Democracy votes divided and outraged at each other due to Yeltsin’s death, crushed and leaderless after the crackdown, and often excluded from the ballot never stood a chance. With elements of the police’s help, the country’s democracy already existed in name only. The Supreme Court’s decisions were simply ignored in the interest of ‘the emergency’ and ‘the ongoing Yeltsinist insurrection’. Consequently, the results could hardly have come as a shock while maintaining the sheer thud of horror and revulsion that sounded across the planet. The National Salvation Front had won nearly 60% of the seats, with many of the smaller parties and independents agreeing (under much duress) that they would ‘cooperate’ with the NSF on all important matters.

    The results would of course be denounced by the US as fraudulent, giving Clinton the political cover to call the Kaliningrad Provisional government the sole legitimate government and cut off all aid and finance to mainland Russia. Israel, Poland and Germany in particular, denounced the government for their Nazi ties, especially for Barkashov winning a seat under the coalition, alongside National Bolshevist Aleksandr Dugin who even then had grown infamous for his Himmleresque pseudo-realities. He had likewise won a seat after being convinced to stand for the organization by rightist members to get his voice heard directly in the government, an offer he agreed to after feeling 'The Weight of History' after the Kremlin shelling. More favourable endorsements came from Serbia (“Serbia stands hand in hand with our Orthodox Slavic brothers in defiance of Western Capitalist Hegemony!”), China (“We are encouraged that Russia has rejected its disastrous experimentation with the imported Western model.”), and David Duke (“This is the greatest news for the White man in all the Twentieth Century!”)

    But undoubtedly the most chilling memory of the election night was Makashov’s victory speech.

    Extract from Makashov’s Victory Speech, November 14th 1993

    “My fellow Russians, today is the day that the fightback against the occupation of our country has finally begun. The occupation of thieves, aliens and invaders. We had our troops in Berlin, now we don’t even have troops in Grozny! Our borders stretched to the Carpathians and now they’ve collapsed back to Rostov! Our very voice made the world tremble, now it barely makes them laugh. Your wealth was stolen by Capitalists, your hopes were stolen by liberal politicians and your country was stolen by traitors. It is no crime to take back what is yours! To take back our wealth, our hopes, our country, is no sin! We will end the prostitution of our country! We will end the auction of our childrens’ futures to the Rootless Capitalists! We will end the humiliation of our people, our nation, our Russia! The Liberal Capitalist occupation of Russia is over!

    Cheers from audience

    “And Gaidar, and all the other rats that have fled to Kaliningrad and hide behind their Western masters for protection? Who whispered sweet nothings of democracy and refused any elections in Kaliningrad because you know they’d run you out of Kaliningrad at the end of a pitchfork? You and all the other traitors will face justice one day! You will face the parents who could not feed their children! Of the Russians who were abandoned beyond the border! The pensioners who fought in the Great Patriotic War and lost in your ‘reforms’ what little they had not lost in the war. The Russian people will never forgive, and will never forget!


    “The results of this election will mean many weeping and gnashing of teeth in Washington, in London, in Berlin, and, we must not forget that most dear country, in Tel Aviv.


    “Because a Jewish country that works for the Jewish people is perfectly acceptable, but a Russian country that works for the Russian people is an atrocity, of course! They only exist because of us, after we saved them from the Nazis, after we created Israel, and this is how they repay us? To have the Israeli ambassador compare the overthrow of the tyrant Yeltsin to the Nazi Kristallnacht? To have the Israeli President call on all Jews in Russia to leave? The Jews have had no greater friend than the Russian people, and Israel would be wise to remember that. I only wish they were as mad about the fact that our people were starving in the streets, as the fact we denounce their hypocricy! But of course, I’m no Anti-Semite! The ingratitude towards Russia is no quality specific to Israel. The Poles, Balts, Germans, who jeer us despite the fact we liberated them from Hitler, and to the Americans and English who let our sons die because they were too cowardly to send theirs. But, if there are any Jews or Poles or Balts in this country, or anyone else for that matter, who are offended when we say that we will put the ‘Russian people first’, and they do not think themselves in that number, then it would indeed be wise to leave this country. Because if you will have nothing to do with the Russian people, the Russian people will have nothing to do with you!


    “We will be wealthy again! We will be strong again! We will be proud again! Russia will reclaim her destiny as the leader of the world, the saviour of civilisation! And to all those leaders of the world who sneer and mock us, I say this: We do not ask for your love because we do not want it, and we do not ask for your respect because you will give it involuntarily!

    Wild cheers

    “And I swear, you will never hear that dirge again! That ‘national anthem’ of an occupied country, an anthem so ashamed of itself that it doesn’t even have lyrics! We will play the old anthem! ... Anthems! The ones we played when we put a man into space! The ones we played when we saved Moscow in 1941! When we saved Stalingrad in 1942! When we beat the Nazis in 1945! And 1956! And 1968! The anthems of a country that was loved! A country that was feared! A country that was stolen from us! Stolen by scum, and surrendered by cowards. But we’ll get our country back! We’ll get it all back! And when we do, and we return our lost lands back to the Russia that made them what they are, it will already have the anthems of her people to greet them back. The old anthems! The old flag! The old glory! Glory to Russia!”

    Wild cheers, Baburin and Anpilov enter stage, shake hands with Mashkarov.

    Extract from ABC Nightly News, November 14th 1993

    Peter Jennings: “Those were the words that the incoming Chairman of the Russian Parliament gave earlier today. These comments were, to say the least, deeply concerning to Western observers. We have Sam Donaldson at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow now. Sam, as we can see, a worrisome situation.”

    Sam Donaldson: “Hello Peter, yes, we’ve been talking to dozens of people here in this airport. People were selling jewellery, clothes, anything to get a plane ticket out of the country. It’s no surprise that a large number of those people are Jewish. When we asked one elderly gentleman if he was flying one way, he said ‘yes’ and when asked why he just showed us the tattoo on his wrist and walked away. Israel has announced that it is massively stepping up flights to Russia to try and deal with the now overwhelming demand of the Jewish population to leave. The number of Jews moving to Israel from the Post Soviet Union was already enormous but these recent developments are going to seriously call into question Israel’s ability to deal with this influx. They are obviously worried, as are all Western leaders, about some of the extreme Anti-Semitism that Makashov and others in the National Salvation Front have expressed including the election of Alexander Barkashov who is widely seen as a Neo-Nazi."

    Peter Jennings: “Sam, these people trying to flee the country, Jews evidently make up a substantial proportion but what are some of the other groups?”

    Sam Donaldson: “Yes, we don’t want anyone to think that this exodus of people is an entirely Jewish phenomenon. A lot of ethnic minorities, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, they’re all really scared of some of the rhetoric that members of the NSF have said about people from the Caucasus region. And of course we can’t forget the average Russian citizen, Peter, many of whom are really scared that this is going to turn the country back into a concentration camp and want to get out while they still can. Many are flying, driving or sailing to the Kaliningrad region that’s become sort of what Taiwan was to the Chinese Nationalists when they fled the Communists back in 1949, an isolated fortress beyond the reach of a Communistic dictatorship. The train service to Kaliningrad was cut almost immediately after those horrible scenes in Moscow we saw last month but they’re finding any other way they can. Kaliningrad has been seeing terrible street violence between NSF demonstrators and the police that remain loyal to Yeltsin’s former government, so the fact that so many Russians are desperate to flee there gives you an indication of how worried people are here. I was told by one person at the airport that they'd told their family in St. Petersburg to cross into Finland by any means necessary. Another came to me and said, tears in their eyes, 'I can't believe it's gotten to the stage I have to tell my country 'Goodbye, forever.'”

    Peter Jennings: “Thank you, Sam. We’re still getting word in from how various countries have addressed General Makashov’s speech. President Wałęsa of Poland saying ‘We have nothing to be grateful for to the godless country that occupied and enslaved us’. In Latvia, Valdis Birkavs, who was recently elected as the new Prime Minister has said that all Russian troops must uphold their agreements to leave Latvia and Estonia as soon as possible or it will end in a quote ‘with Russia’s name soiled for the next millennium’. Leonid Kravchuk, the President of Ukraine, said that ‘While we hope to have the best possible cooperation with our most brotherly nation in matters from trade to the Black Sea Fleet, Mr Makashov is mistaken. Ukraine is a legitimate, independent country and it will remain so’. In Tatarstan, one of the regions discussing breaking away from Russia, President Mintimer Shaimiev called the speech ‘Deeply concerning for the ongoing negotiations of Tatarstan’s autonomy’. Lastly comes perhaps the most curt, coming from Chechnya, the breakaway state in the Caucasus. Coming from President Dzhokhar Dudayev, he sent out a simple, one-line reply saying, ‘If the ‘Rashist’ regime wants to rob the Chechen people of their freedom, they are welcome to try and take it’.”
    Last edited:
    "Three Sisters"
  • Don't be fooled by the cut to April in the last section - there's still a lot that will happen just in the four months of the year alone.

    "Three Sisters"

    Extract from Larry King Live, November 19th, 1993

    Larry King: “Good evening and welcome back to Larry King live, earlier today the President announced his support for the former Communist countries of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Lithuania in their quest to join NATO. Statements of support have come in from Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, and the move is widely expected to be unanimously supported by the NATO alliance, which requires unanimous consent before joining. Joining us to discuss this move are Senate Foreign Committee member and Democrat senator from Delaware Joe Biden and Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain. Senator Biden, the Administration has been criticized for not being strong on Russia, do you feel this move does enough to stand up to this radical Salvation Front Regime?”

    Biden: “Well look, Larry, this administration has had to balance multiple parties’ interests in Russia, and oftentimes I’d agree we should have done this or we should have said that, but the bottom line is we’ve created a global coalition practically from scratch. I was greatly encouraged by the words from Israeli Prime Minister Rabin that he was willing to stand together with America to oppose this new regime. I’ve been advocating NATO expansion for quite a well now Larry and I know it’s kinda crazy how the discussion has changed in only a few months but it’s really extraordinary. We’ve got a near-unanimous consensus, unanimous. These four countries, especially Lithuania, there was a lot of debate about their joining and now they’re going through faster than anyone could have believed. In reality it seemed a lot of the dissent was coming from the other side of the aisle; you had Pat Buchanon the other day talking about how this country would make a great ally of America! Ally? This Anti-Semitic mishmash of Communists and Nazis? I think the administration has done very well on the matter of standing up to Russia, all things considered.”

    King: “Senator McCain, do you agree with that?”

    McCain: “Well first things first, Pat Buchanon is about as relevant to the Republican Party as Bernie Sanders is to the Democrat party. Second of all, yes, this package of Poland, Hungary, Lithuania etc, all joining NATO, that’s a very good thing. But at the same time, that’s not where the real danger is. The real danger is in Latvia and Estonia, the other two Baltic countries. There are still Russian troops in these regions and this new government has given indication that they are going to renege on agreements to leave and imply that they’re going to reoccupy the country like Stalin did. Now, what’ll that mean to the Jews living in these countries, to the freedom fighters who fought for fifty years to bring independence to their countries? The best way to defend these countries would be for the President to say ‘We are extending our NATO invitation to Latvia and Estonia’. This would make the Russians think twice about stationing troops in these regions because they’d have to fear American involvement. It will take courage and commitment, but unfortunately, I do not see the Administration having the courage and commitment to go through with this.”

    King: “Senator Biden, that’s really the crux of it, a lot of people are especially worried about Latvia and Estonia. On one hand, you have people saying we can’t just let this new regime take over two independent countries in Europe, but at the same time, we have a lot of people worried about the prospect of an armed conflict with the Russians. How will the President be able to navigate between these two extremes, if he can?”

    Biden: “I’m not going to lie to you Larry, the question of Latvia and Estonia is a very tough one. It would be tempting, like my Republican colleague here is attempting to do, of giving out blank assurances but we’ve got to be completely sure that we’re going to be able to back it up, so -”

    King: “I think we understand that, but what I and a lot of the viewers would like to know is what this administration’s policy towards Estonia and Latvia is? Will there be red lines? Will there be some form of compromise, is there any plan that you are aware of?

    Biden: “That’s an excellent question Larry, and there’s no cheap, soundbite-friendly answer that I can give. The only thing that the President can do is continue to send a firm message that aggression will not be tolerated by either the United States or by NATO.”

    King: “But if he’s not saying ‘we will defend Latvia and Estonia militarily’, is he not giving a ‘firm message’ that such an action will essentially be allowed?”

    Biden: Nervously laughing “I know it’s the wrong party but to quote former President Reagan, ‘There you go again!’ But to address your question, yes, there are many forms of actions we can take that don’t necessitate military conflict with this illegitimate Russian government. We are so much stronger than them that we can hit them on a range of fronts, both economically and militarily.”

    King: “Militarily? But we’re talking about -”

    Biden: “Not Russia itself, but Larry, these NSF guys have a lot of allies who they can’t protect.”

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    The new NSF government was, as any coalition of Fascists and Communists would be, exceptionally divided on a host of issues. They knew what they hated (the West, Capitalism, Democracy, and Liberalism in both the 19th Century and modern sense), but finding agreeable solutions was another thing entirely. Already the two sides began to segregate into blocs within the coalition, with (among others):

    • Dugin (Right Bloc): A bizarre philosopher and geostrategist who sensed innate destiny within the Slavic race to lead the world against the ‘Anglo-Saxons’. He became the Cultural Minister, tasked with creating a chimeric vision of a traditionalist Russia that was simultaneously in love with its Soviet past. Or, as he would describe it, ‘To put the Red Star in the stained glass of every church.”
    • Barkashov (Right Bloc): The semi-openly Hitler-admiring stormtrooper whose RNU paramilitary was the real power in Moscow. He was, at the time, too controversial to put into the Cabinet. It is around this time that he began to read a Russian translation of the Turner Diaries.
    • Nevzorov (Right Bloc): The television presenter whose exhaustion and anger at the Yeltsin government had led him to dark solutions. He became the Minister of the Press and Information, quickly renationalising broadcasting in the name of ‘combatting disinformation’ and disseminating a narrative that glorified the NSF as saviours of not just Russia, but all human civilization.
    • Limonov (Right Bloc): The National Bolshevist who was in some bizarre way often a swing vote. He took the Minister of the Interior position after jockeying for influence and excluding the Supreme Soviet’s prior choice on the basis of not being hardline enough.
    • Baburin (Right Bloc): One of the more moderate nationalists in the group, who fantasised about a national revival of the Russians as a people. To this end, he became Foreign Minister.
    • Mikhael Astafyev (Right Bloc): Baburin’s partner within the Russian All People’s Union Party, his anti-Privatisation and pro-collective farm policies were sufficient to make him Minister of the Economy.
    • Shafarevich (Right Bloc): A mathematician whose suspicion of Jews and lack of faith in socialism led him to the extreme right. His appointment to Science Minister went without a hitch, and was regarded as the sanest person in the government by Western observers.
    • Anpilov (Left Bloc): A full-blown Stalinist, Anpilov was the strongest voice for collectivisaiton and the return of Five Year plans. He consequently became the Industrial Minister
    • Zyuganov (Left Bloc): Anpilov’s biggest enemy due to Communist infighting, Zyuganov was slightly more nationalistic. He became the Agricultural Minister, thus ensuring both the hammer and sickle would be the purview of Communists.
    • Ilyukhin (Left Bloc): After ranting about the illegality of the Baltic secession, his appointment to the Prosecutor General’s office would turn the court into little more than a modern incarnation of Roland Freisler’s judicial atrocities.
    • Ilya Konstantinov (Left Bloc): Chairman of the NSF’s organising committee, he became the Chief of Administration.
    • Alksnis (Left Bloc): The half-Latvian was known as ‘The Black Colonel’, owing to his ruthless militarism and yearning to return to Soviet domination. He stole the Security Minister position from Viktor Barannikov (who had been appointed by the former Supreme Soviet) as the organisation wanted such a sensitive operation in confirmed friendly hands.
    • Makashov (Left Bloc): The new Chairman, whose Anti-Semitism was crucial in convincing the Right Bloc of his ability to compromise. One of his first acts was to abolish the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (not that there were many Jews there) in retaliation for Israel refusing to hand over Anatoly Chubais, who had fled to Israel and refused to deal with Russian politics anymore.

    In the realm of the economy, privatisation was halted though the notion of universal confiscation of private property was dropped as unduly expensive and in total opposition to most of the Right Bloc. In the coming months the budding Oligarch class was decimated, either fleeing the country, seeing their wealth arbitrarily confiscated (or not so arbitrarily if you knew their ethnicity), and a vanishing few were able to keep their wealth if they were considered sufficiently patriotic and had enough members of the Right Bloc to save them from the chop. For example, Boris Berezovsky and his acquaintance Roman Abramovitch would see their businesses confiscated by the state while Berezovsky’s business partner Aleksandr Voloshin was fine as the former were Jewish and the latter was not. The confiscated cash would then be used to buy off influential people and thoroughly subvert what little democracy was left in Russia. While both Berezovsky and Abramovitch would be lucky enough to flee to Israel, Voloshin would now have to pay an inordinate amount in bribes while the economy continued to splutter into the toilet. The West had ceased business with the new Russian government, limiting its access to foreign markets. While Western countries, particularly Germany, felt the pinch of this, it did not remotely compare to the gridlock in Russia. The growing Third World was interested in taking many of Russia’s goods, but in the 90s they did not contribute anywhere near enough in terms of demand to make up for the West. Put together, everyone in the government knew this would lead to a real risk of famine throughout the country. Thus, in keeping with tradition, Moscow and St. Petersburg were put front and centre, with the shortages mainly pushed to the far-flung ethnic republics that Russia had imprisoned within its colossus. Of course, this would be one of the primary instigators of the waves of resistance that sprang over the country in 1994.

    One big and immediate announcement was the announcement of the new Prosecutor General Viktor Ilyukhin that Mikhael Gorbachev, Ruslan Khasbulatov, and Viktor Yerin would be put on trial for high treason, while Yaidar was trialed in absentia on ‘economic genocide'. For Gorbachev, the charge related to his allowing the Soviet Republics to become independent. Ilyukhin had tried to push a similar charge in 1991 but was rebuffed as the State Council made the decision, not Gorbachev, which caused him to lose his job and flee to Pravda newspaper. Amidst his furious declarations that the Belovezh Accords were illegal, the CIS was illegal, the disintegration of the Soviet Union was illegal, and that the independence of all fifteen of its republics were illegal, he had gained enough ears in the National Front. His appointment was the death kneel of a free judiciary in the new Russia, as the law was simply not followed when it was in the NSF’s interests. Thus, his policy was to go after the remnants of Gorbachev and Yeltsin’s supporters. Gorbachev had refused to leave the country in the aftermath of the shelling of the Kremlin and had thus placed himself firmly into the NSF’s hands. He was arrested on December 7th 1993, holding himself with stoic rigidity as a pre-arranged group of Communists arranged by Nezvorov threw rotting tomatoes at him as he entered the jail. The outrage this move generated was so enormous it temporarily brought Ronald Reagan out of retirement to campaign for his friend’s freedom. Granted, the thought that the move brought anguish to a former US President probably pleased the NSF more than hurt them.

    With respect to Khasbulatov, he was still a member of the Supreme Soviet, and so a man of his prominence being taken was something that removed the last morsels of courage from almost everyone in the government, including President Rutskoy, whose personal declaration of gutting the powers of President had left him almost completely unable to help his colleague. Rutskoy would petition for Khasbulatov, but was at best only able to reduce the sentence. Khasbulatov was charged with fanciful claims of collaboration with Dudayev in Chechnya, supposedly promising Dudayev that he could have an independent Chechnya in return for funneling guns to Pro-Parliament paramilitaries. Needless to say, the whole thing was a total hoax, but as Khasbulatov was a wanted man in the West as he had ‘killed Yeltsin’ and overthrown the ‘legitimate’ Russian government, he had nowhere to run. Unlike Gorbachev’s stoicism, at the same manufactured photo-shoot arranged by Nezvorov, Khasbulatov was visibly shattered in his knowledge of what he had unleashed not just in Russia, but on the whole world. Not even the Chechens mourned him, seeing it as good if anything that a message was sent to ‘collaborators’ with Russia. Yerin’s trial proceeded first, revolving around claims of cooperation with a ‘tyrannical’ Yeltsin in order to suppress the ‘Second October Revolution’ as the Nevzorov Propaganda network had taken to calling it. Already, observers could see the extent of farce these trials would end up being, This was doubly confirmed by the psychedelic experience of Gaidar’s show trial, which claimed all the hardship of the previous Yeltsin years (including the Gorbachev difficulties) were actually a planned ‘CIA-Mossad operation’. The trial quickly devolved into a talk-shop for Ilyukhin’s Soviet nostalgia with intermittent jibes at Jews, an apt description of the state the NSF had created.

    Extract from ‘The Wild East: How the Second Russian Civil War changed Europe’ by Ilya Shevchenko

    Upon the NSF’s election, the head of Russian troops in Germany (Matvey Buriakov) was told in simple terms by Chancellor Kohl that he had to immediately make a decision about whether he and his 40,000 troops still in Germany were loyal to the Kaliningrad government under Gaidar or to the new Moscow government under Makashov. They were told in simple terms that if it was the latter then they could forget leaving in Summer 1994 as planned and would have one week to leave. Buriakov decided to sleep on the matter, but that night he would encounter something that many consider a divine message. He had a dream where he walked around Moscow, finding to his astonishment that no one was around. Finally, he nearly tripped, and when he turned to look at the ground he saw that the whole ground had literally been paved with corpses. Waking up with a fright, he would tell his troops that it was their right to decide to return to mainland Russia, but if they did they would have to abandon their equipment, which would be sent to Kaliningrad where he was going. Despite this, most soldiers wanted to return to their families and so some 75% decided to return to Russia proper, a choice that those who survived would often regret.

    Buriakov would go to Kaliningrad regardless, as the decision would lead him to be favorably looked upon by the new regime, which was still fishing for credibility after clashing with NSF demonstrators on an almost daily basis. Gaidar himself was privately indifferent to whatever befell Gorbachev as he saw him as a potential rival for power. He was also thankful for the positive publicity in light of Ilyukhin’s bizarre absentia trial by making him appear an antagonist for the NSF, thus ensuring waves of positive press in Western publications. Soon after, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin managed to come to Kaliningrad by means of circumnavigating the planet and consequently left enough time for Gaidar to establish an administration without him. This, to say the least, was quite bemusing to Chernomyrdin, who demanded to know on what basis Gaidar had the authority to make himself the acting President of Russia. “How about this, you old fuck?” Gaidar responded, picking up the Cheget (the Presidential nuclear briefcase that he’d smuggled out of the Kremlin before it fell with the other two lost to the NSF). Gaidar had passed a number of ‘emergency resolutions’ effectively nulling the ability of any group other than the Executive of holding power, as well as suspending elections indefinitely. While these measures would of course in normal times have resulted in the immediate annihilation of ties with the West, he remained the superior option in an admittedly underwhelming competition for Russian legitimacy. Gaidar’s other ‘briefcases’ had gotten him the police, army, and even the Baltic Navy, but it had done little to win over the locals. Kaliningrad was run-down, even for Russia in 1993, but staying there was considered essential in order to maintain legitimacy. The Gaidar Administration knew that if they ran to America to run a government in exile that it would instantly be seen as confirmation of their status as American puppets. The pulling out of American aid from mainland Russia now focussed entirely on Kaliningrad, who finally began to see noticeable improvements in their lives for the first time in years (though still materially worse than life in the Soviet era). At the same time, the Gaidar Administration had ironically less democracy than mainland Russia for the time being, as martial law had been declared as the leaders of the local NSF groups were arrested and detained for treason. Democracy was stopped in the name of democracy, free speech was cracked down on in the name of free speech and freedom was suspended for the sake of freedom.

    Yet just farther north, the situation was vastly worse. Lithuania had been spared Russian occupation by mere weeks, but Latvia and Estonia still had Russian troops on their soil. Lithuania had initially been angry at the refusal of NATO to allow the other two Baltic states into their midst. However, the Latvians and Estonians themselves told Vilnius to accept the offer of NATO enlargement. Kaliningrad likewise pleaded for Lithuania to accept as they would be safe behind the NATO shield if the NSF tried to make a run on the rump territory. This was a process that in a strictly legal sense Lithuania was ineligible for owing to her woeful military that failed to meet NATO’s minimum standards, but the thought of allowing even more countries to fall to NSF Russia was unacceptable. In response to the NSF’s victory, street protests erupted in Tallinn and Riga in defiance of the new administration. In Riga, protestors clashed with Russians who supported the new government, leading to growing voices inside mainland Russia to occupy the country once the NSF stepped into power formally. People treated the Russian troops with extreme suspicion and hostility as no one knew what the intentions of the regime were. Despite this, Latvians and Estonians began to prepare for conflict, with citizens' militias beginning to firm, women creating Molotov Cocktails in the basements and gun shipments began suddenly and mysteriously coming in from ‘Third Parties'. The latter often came from gentlemen that had a vaguely Middle Eastern accent but could talk about Latvia as if they had been born there.

    Despite this, Clinton could give no more than vague threats on the two countries that many Americans had grown accustomed to thinking of as ‘Parts of Russia’. The Royal Navy and US Fleet sailed imposingly around the Baltic (in tandem with the Kaliningrad-loyal Russian Baltic Fleet), plans were hatched to land on the Baltic islands and establish provisional governments, and threats were made to Russia that America and the Collective West would announce an embargo on anyone who did business with Russia in the event of an invasion of Estonia and Latvia. While this crisis would quickly be overshadowed by many similar crises in the Civil War, this was one of the first times the spectre of conflict between NSF Russia and the West began to take hold.

    As Makashov formally took the position of Prime Minister by the end of November, one of the first things on the agenda was what to do with Latvia and Estonia. Many of the more extremist members of the party wanted full domination and conquest of all Post-Soviet states, including Lithuania, calling America’s security guarantees to Lithuania hogwash. At the same time, the state was still incredibly fragile, with NSF Russia still having difficulties trying to purge remaining independent institutions of dissenters. Many were simply physically threatened into submission by the paramilitaries the NSF could deploy at a moment’s notice. In some parts of Russia, they became more prominent than the actual police. This left a situation where Makashov was acutely aware of Russia’s limitations and the need to rebuild military strength after the debacle of Afghanistan. It was ultimately agreed, especially to Alksnis’s disappointment, that full occupation of Latvia and Estonia so quickly would be too sudden for the Russian masses and it would push the country back into further anarchy. To that end, they would arrange their own ‘compromise’, without telling the Estonians or Latvians. As a final middle finger to the West, they decided to do a move that the Arabs had used back in 1973.

    Extract from BBC Evening News, December 25th, 1993

    Philip Hayton: “Good evening, the Moscow government in Russia has broken its commitment to leave Latvian and Estonian territory and has announced the partial annexation of both countries. In the early hours of the morning, Russian soldiers moved from their bases in both countries to new locations, announcing that the territory they were on was now part of Russia itself. These regions are the Ida-Viru of Estonia and the Latgale region of Latvia. Chairman Makashov has announced that these regions will become the ‘Narva’ and ‘Latgale’ regions of Russia respectively. Our reporter from Tallinn, Ben Brown, is with us now. Ben, why has Makashov done this?"

    Ben Brown: “Good evening, the West has been worried for a while that Chairman Makashov would do something like this, after months of saying that Russian speakers had to be ‘protected from ravenous Latvian and Estonian nationalists’ as he put it. The biggest fears, that of a full takeover of the two Baltic states, those fears have subsided, but what he’s done is still a violation of all treaties to which Russia has been a party. It appears that the only pieces that the Russians will maintain a permanent occupation will be in the regions of these countries that maintain a significant presence of ethnic Russians, Russian speakers. At the same time, while the so-called ‘Narva’ region from Estonia will be overwhelmingly Russian in ethnicity, the Latgale region is a lot more mixed, and in fact, it’s believed that only a minority of the region’s citizens are ethnically Russian. So while Chairman Makashov will claim that they’ve helped ‘bring Russians home’ as it were, many are pointing out that many people have lost their homes tonight. One other thing, the rules of NATO say that you cannot join if there is an existing territorial dispute, so many observers believe that this was a ploy by Makashov to ensure Latvia and Estonia could never join NATO since no one in NATO will recognize this annexation and therefore no membership can be possible. Only Milosevic’s Serbia has recognized the decision for now."

    Philip Hayton: “How have the Latvian and Estonian governments, as well as NATO, how have they reacted to this?”

    Ben Brown: “Well both of these young and struggling states know that it would be an extremely dangerous mission to try and physically take these territories back by force from a nuclear Russia. So no full threats of invasion thus far, but I’ll tell you, Philip, on the streets of both countries the reaction has been absolutely explosive. While there is certainly anger at the West for allowing this to happen, the bulk of the anger has naturally been cast on symbols of the Soviet occupation. The ‘Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, a memorial statue to Soviet troops who died taking Estonia back from Germany in WW2, was torn down and thrown into the Baltic. In Latvia, the Victory Monument, this giant WW2 monument, was blown up and toppled by dynamite by a local paramilitary group. There has been a wave of extreme violence in Riga, which is very mixed between ethnic Russians and ethnic Latvians. Russian language bookstores are having Molotov cocktails thrown into them, ethnic Russians have been attacked and many are in the process of literally fleeing to the zone of occupation in Latgale with the same thing happening in Latgale as thousands of Latvians are fleeing out of the region to escape falling behind a Second Iron Curtain. When it comes to NATO, President Clinton has announced tougher economic sanctions but it’s clear that he won’t go into some of the more robust actions that others have been calling for, specifically secondary embargoes and other things of that nature.”

    Philip Hayton: “How has the move been received in Russia?”

    Ben Brown: “From what we can gather the move has done a lot to shore up the regime’s popularity as an ‘expander of Russian lands’. President Rutskoy, who is generally considered a moderate from outside the NSF, said that the decision was right, just, and will be remembered as a day of reunion for thousands of Russians trapped behind the lines forced upon them in 1991. Many that were worried about a conflict with the West are content with this so-called ‘compromise’. Chairman Makashov made his own speech, saying pointedly to the West, “The Orthodox world did not care about the West’s precious ‘December 25th’ until today, now it is a day in honour of Russia’s Pheonix-like recovery, and a day that the West will remember as the beginning of its doom’. He gave further warnings that if the West ‘even considered’ getting Estonia and Latvia into NATO that they would occupy the remainder of both countries by nightfall. And with that, Philip, I think that kills talk of NATO ascension for Latvia and Estonia for the foreseeable future.”

    Extracts from NATO Signing Ceremony of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Poland, April 28th 1994, White House

    Lech Wałęsa, President of Poland: “Mr. President, today, you will go down in history as one of Poland’s greatest friends. And not just you, but the whole of the people of the United States! You are the greatest friends of the Polish people! The Land of the Free!


    “Mr President, I was not born free. I was born under the Nazi occupation of my country. I lived my childhood under the boot of Joseph Stalin, my adolescence under the shoe of Krushchev and in all my adulthood I fought against the occupation of my country. The Polish people do not need lessons in what it means to be free. We were free when we saved Europe at Vienna in 1683 from the armies of the Sultan, we were free when we saved Europe again in 1920 from Lenin at the banks of the Vistula by the grace of the Virgin Mary herself, and we were free when we decided to die on our feet against the Nazis in 1944 on the streets of our capital. As we try to find our feet in this ‘new world order’, and we try to become a country as successful as any in Europe, the Polish people still know in the marrow of their bones that it is better to be poor and free than a well-fed slave!


    "As we sign this document today, the first born-free Poles for more than fifty years are finally being born. And every Pole who remembers the repression, the concentration camps, the killings, the shootings, the murders, they will do everything in their power and the power that God gives them to ensure that those children will never know what we went through. No more partitions, no more dictatorships, no more! Poland is not yet lost, and now, with the aid of Poland’s greatest friend, the United States of America, it never will be! Thank you, American people!”


    Adolfas Šleževičius, Prime Minister of Lithuania: Visually downcast - “Thank you Mr. President, and thanks to all NATO nations who allowed us into this alliance. Few in Lithuania could have expected that we’d have seen our dreams of NATO membership fulfilled so soon after our independence. It’s a great moment in Lithuanian history, but one thing makes this occasion more somber: that two people who should be here are not. Our Baltic brethren have had their land stolen, their sovereignty desecrated and their patriots imprisoned. From Narva and Latgale, we hear the horrifying tales of what has befallen our brothers. The suppression, the torture, the brutality. It’s all happening again, just as it was in the 1940s, and the 1950s, the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and now into the 90s. For more than half a century, we fought together, we suffered together, and died together as we fought for our right to be free. And now, by nothing more than cruel fate, we had a chance to escape this occupation, and they did not. We had a chance to join NATO, and they did not. We had a chance to secure our freedom, and they did not.

    "And so, I give this speech not just to the American people whom we will always be grateful for, but to the people of Latvia and Estonia, who even now still fear that the Russian tanks will take what they have left. I ask them, can you forget when we fought in the forests of the Baltics decades after all hope was lost? Can you forget when we marched together in the streets do undo what Hitler and Stalin had done? Can you forget when we held our hands all the way from Talinn down to Vilnius, three sisters, indivisible? If you can’t forget that, how do you expect us to? Until our last dying breath, we will do everything we can to free your land, free your people and see you standing where I am now. The long night of the twentieth century is coming to an end. You will see the sunlight soon.”
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  • Artillery!

    Extract from the BBC Documentary ‘Facing Past and Future: 20 Years after the Fire’, by John Sweeney

    Sweeney: “Taxi!”

    Taxi approaches crew

    Sweeney (as narrator): “In Latvia, the bitterness of the occupation still runs deep, to the extent people who know Russian refuse to speak it. Noticing my driver is only slightly younger than a spry youth such as myself, I try to initiate a conversation in a now thoroughly foreign language.”

    Driver: “Are you …?”

    Sweeney: “I’m English.”

    Driver: “Ah, I was confused about why you were speaking Russian. Heh, it’s rare to hear it in Latvia these days.”

    Sweeney: “Do the young people not learn it?”

    Sweeney: “No, none of the young people know Russian. There are probably more people who speak Chinese than Russian in Latvia these days!”

    Sweeney: “So only the older people know it?”

    Driver: “Well, a lot of them don’t like to speak in it because of all the sad things that happened during the 90s and before that of course. Many swore in December 1993 that they would never say it again - of course, since I was actually living in Daugavpils at the time, I didn’t have a choice.”

    Sweeney: “So you were in Latgale during the occupation?”

    Driver: “Yes, at first we were grateful, even though we were ethnic Latvians, to be on the Russian side. The reason was that we saw all the chaos happening in Riga and we thought to ourselves, well at least there’s no violence here in Daugavpils! The Russian army wouldn’t allow it! Then we had the waves of Russians leave Riga in the next few weeks and move in. A lot of people were killed in the riots in Riga so everyone was running here. That turned Latgale into a majority-Russian place. At the same time, this was still our home, we grew up alongside Russians, didn’t see any difference, what was the problem? At the same time, we heard that they were eating beans around flaming, public camp fires in Tallinn because the coal and energy had all been cut off since the annexation, so we thought we were the lucky ones. After a few weeks, however, the Russian police came in. They started arresting people left and right. If you so much as spoke Latvian in the town centre, arrested! If you wore red and white? Arrested! Of course, by then we knew it was too late but what could we do? They’d left the border open for a little bit at the start to reduce the number of people to deal with, but by then they’d mined the shit out of it!”

    Sweeney: “So you were in ‘Russia’, when the violence exploded?”

    Driver: “I was in prison when it all started.”

    Sweeney: “Prison?”

    Driver: “I made the mistake, in early 1994, of being in the wrong place and time according to some drunk Russian’s quotas. The New Forest Brothers had just shot an OMON officer - this was after Limonov had reformed them to basically be the second coming of the NKVD. So they had a quota about making sure they got someone to blame. Being Russians they just flung themselves around and grabbed anyone they could, and I was one.”

    Sweeney: “What was it like in prison back then?”

    Driver: “Hell. You could barely even sit in that closet of a cell, and you had to share it with half a dozen other unlucky bastards. They used cattle prods if you said a word, especially if you were speaking in Latvian. I saw one poor bastard insist ‘Latgalian isn’t Latvian! It’s a separate language,’ before they beat that son of a bitch so bad I thought I was going to witness a fucking murder! Every once in a while you heard gunshots, so I probably at least heard some murders.”

    Sweeney: “How did you get out?”

    Driver: “ ‘Exchanged’ after it kicked off - I hope whatever food the bastards got in return gave them a stomach ache. I settled in Riga, and haven’t left the city since. Haven’t had much of a chance to practice my Russian either, but I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I can barely even look eastwards anymore - too much sadness.”

    Sweeney: “Do you miss Daugavpils?”

    Driver: Shrug “I miss my youth, being able to dance all night, having all the girls chase after me, or what it was in reality, having me chase all of them and getting nothing by the end of the night. Believing back in the 80s that things were finally going to get better for everyone, I miss all that. Latvia’s changed a lot since I was a kid, and though I don’t think I’ve kept up with it, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t for the best. I hope kids in Latvia today can leave all the bitterness with my generation.”

    Car stops

    Driver: “Here we are. Sorry for my Russian being slightly rusty.”

    Sweeney: “Not at all! Here you go! Spasiba!”

    Driver: “Spasiba!”

    Sweeney exits the car and closes the door, car drives off

    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz

    The loss of face from the partial annexation resulted in the West exerting more pressure to try and create a united front across the Post-Soviet region. One of the first things to do was to end some of the conflicts that had been raging at the time. For one, Armenia’s conflict with Azerbaijan. Both (but Azerbaijan especially in being Muslim) feared a resurgent Ultra-nationalist Russia, especially given its evident disdain of Caucasians. This gave the Clinton Administration an opening for peace in late January 1994, with Armenia taking the lion’s share of victory in effectively making the ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh, plus the surrounding area that had been expelled of Azerbaijani residents, a separate state called ‘Artsakh’. This was not officially recognised, since Turkey most certainly would not allow it. But the victory and pressure the Armenian-Diaspora could evidently bring to reality created a Caucasus that was at least nominally united against ‘Russia’, a term now casually used among even political leaders as well as journalists and citizens, despite the continued recognition of Gaidar’s Administration as ‘the legitimate Russian government’.

    The second conflict that was resolved was the Bosnian-Croat War, a segment of the Bosnian War. While the Serbs had been fighting both, and in a more existential fashion, certainly in Bosnia’s case, both had come to blows over the rights of Croats in Bosnia. Ultimately, the West’s main enemy in the struggle had always been the Serbians owing to their committing the lion’s share of atrocities, and naturally in having the most avowedly anti-West government, both nationalist and socialist. As such, the goal was to bash Croatia and Bosnia’s heads together to cook up a deal and get the two onside to stand up to Milosevic’s Pro-Russian Serbia. To that end, things ended up finally working out after President Tuđman purged the Bosnian Croat paramilitaries of opponents to a peace deal (after exceptionally stern American threats and guarantees to the new Croatian state). On February 2nd 1994, another piece of the puzzle came together, as Croatia and Bosnia finally put their differences aside. For a few days, there was genuine positivity with respect to the Balkans.

    Then, on February 5th, a mortar exploded at Markale Market in Sarajevo. Nearly seventy people were killed in the deadliest attack on Sarajevo since the war began. It was somewhat hard to put a definitive seal of blame on the Bosnian Serb forces who had been besieging Sarajevo for years at that point, but it was certainly not unlike their modus operandi. The Bosnian Serb forces had engaged in what has since been regarded as a campaign of genocide in Bosnia against Bozniaks, the first in Europe since World War 2 and unfortunately not the last. Though there was no specific piece of information that could definitively confirm the perpetrators, with debate still raging to this day despite a general historical consensus based around Republika Srpska’s guilt, the need to do something was overwhelming. The West collectively needed to send a message to that its annexation in the Baltics would have consequences. While NATO had let the Bosnian Serbs away with a lot of atrocities, Republika Srpska had made the mistake of doing them after NATO had been embarrassed and was looking for revenge.

    Transcript of Phone call between Bill Clinton and President Milosevic, February 6th 1994

    Milosevic: “Yes, Mr President, what happened in Sarajevo was certainly a tragedy, but I am unconvinced by the evidence you have presented that the Republika Srpska army was responsible and request further investigation.”

    Clinton: “Well, I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree. But I do have something else for you.”

    Milosevic: “What’s that?”

    Clinton: “NATO has collectively agreed on a new set of peace terms for President Karadžić and General Mladić.”

    Milosevic: “Mr. President, you know how I’ve tried to pull those fools back to reality and make them see reason. If it’s anything like Vance-Owens, I’ll be beating my head against a wall.”

    Clinton: “I was figuring you’d say that, the good thing is it’s pretty simple. It goes like this: Unconditional Surrender.”

    Milosevic: “...I’m sorry, I’m not sure if there’s been a translation error -”

    Clinton: “I’m pretty sure there wasn’t, Mr. President. You can forget about Vance-Owens, or anything else. The only terms we offer are the ones we gave to Adolf Hitler: Unconditional Surrender.”

    Milosevic: “...Unconditional Surr-?!”

    Clinton: “Frankly a couple of the other NATO countries were telling me to take you out as well but I decided you’d get the message easy enough. Tell those two sons of bitches, and those sons of bitches in Krajina in Croatia too, that if they don’t surrender by 12:00AM on February 8th then Srpska and Krajina are going to war with the entire Western world. There’s nothing else to say. Goodbye President Milosevic, it wasn’t pleasant.”

    Hangs up

    Extract from Youtube Documentary, ‘NATO - An Unbiased History: Part 6’

    NATO military personnel had built up considerably in the beginning of 1994 in preparation for the greatest act of humiliation in human history since three years ago in Iraq. Operation Mountain Freedom, the plan to bomb Republika Srpska and Krajina to destruction from the air and use the Bozniak/Croat forces to completely expel Serbian forces to within Serbia proper. This had a lot of doubts from cowardly unbelievers in the Western media, who feared that in the mountains of Yugoslavia it would be for the Serbs what the jungles had been for the Viet Cong. Plans were made to send NATO troops in Italy and Hungary into what had been Yugoslavia to finish the job if the Croats and Bozniaks were unable to. The Sixth Fleet patrolled the Adriatic and the biggest military force since Desert Storm arrived in Europe in preparation for the international equivalent of gangbang pornography. The fear of the political cost of ground casualties would limit the salvo to the air but those who believed in the one true military alliance knew it was enough.

    Predictably, Milosevic’s pathetic attempts to negotiate with the West were laughed at. Even more predictably, Republika Srpska’s leadership was unmoved by the threats in a bravado that resulted from NATO’s prior inability to act. That the deadline was unanswered by the Bosnian Serbs was hardly a surprise, but even the most hardened Serbian veteran struggled to maintain their composure just after midnight on February 8th. The first NATO sorties destroyed all border checkpoints between Srpska and Serbia, blasted every command post they could find, and lit the hills by Sarajevo that had mercilessly shelled and sniped the Bozniaks down to their children indiscriminately for years in a blaze of cleansing fire. NATO struck the armies of evil with the force of a Greek God. But in the first hour, NATO already made their most devastating and hilarious blow, as one of their F-117 Nighthawks dropped a bomb directly on the command post that an overly confident General Mladić had been staying in. While Mladić had boasted that ‘Serbians are stronger than anyone short of God himself’, it appears they may have had a weakness for explosive munitions. Minutes later, President Karadžić would meet his maker for a brief moment before being sent to the deepest circle of Hell after his car was blasted off the road by a British fighter while he tried to flee into Serbia to escape the divine reckoning that was about to befall those who challenged NATO. Americans wept that they only took out one of the two people in Srpska that the average Westerner knew.

    On the streets of Sarajevo itself, most had stayed up until late at night, hoping at last, at long last, there would be a light at the end of the accursed tunnel they’d been imprisoned in since 1992. Besieged from all sides, driven close to madness by Republika Srpska’s attempts at genocide, having to crawl through tunnels and sewers to cross the street, children needing to dodge sniper fire on their way to school, cut off from gas and electricity, almost everyone having seen or known someone who had been killed by the Republika Srpska army hiding in the hills and shelling and shooting and slaughtering everyone who couldn’t fight back, the catharsis was overwhelming. A whole city's worth of car horns like an unchained dragon rang out into the night. It was like how countries in normal times would applaud football victories, but still, they cried in glory and teary-eyed triumph, as their genociders were obliterated. All along the lines, the Bozniaks returned fire with might equal to their righteousness. They had already begun seeing Western weaponry appear in their units in 1993 as a result of Congressional funding, and now they were going to finally be used to full effect. From saying “Artillery!” in wonder at finally receiving supplies, to saying ‘Artillery!’ with fist-pumping triumph, the Bozniaks now knew with certainty that they would win the war. After its single darkest day, the light had come in the form of burning Serbian munitions, the lights of the NATO planes overhead, and a dawn sun that promised that from now on they could depend on this near divine-level of power to smite those who would return genocide to Europe. It was like Superman himself had flown in to save them - no, actually, Superman isn’t as powerful as NATO.

    Extract from ‘The Wild East: How the Second Russian Civil War changed Europe’ by Ilya Shevchenko

    The UN vote that followed would prove another win for the West, with the Russian Security Council seat-holders (the Kaliningrad government) and the Chinese both deciding to abstain from the vote. While China (and most of the Anti-West nations) recognized the NSF as the legitimate Russian government, that did not extend to helping them as much as its Communist members had hoped. This gave the West further diplomatic support for their efforts while support on the home front was solid, as a way of striking back at the Russians without risking nuclear war. Bosnia Hawks (chiefly Senator Biden who had been the Bozniaks’ loudest supporter in the Senate) were thrilled at NATO finally taking a decisive role and were equally thrilled at the rapidness of the Bozniak-Croat advance that not even the greatest of optimists in the Western camp expected. The bombing saw a strong upswing in Clinton’s approval ratings (and to a lesser extent Major’s, Kohl’s, and other NATO leaders). At the same time, Gaidar’s approval fell in Kaliningrad, as ancient notions of Russia being unable to ‘defend the Slavs’ (despite the Bozniaks being Slavs) did much to propagate the image of being a Western tool.

    Decapitated and under day and night assault, Srpska and Krajina’s armies were pulverized. Every military asset outside the Serbian border was obliterated down to the horse-carts. Command structure vanished and it quickly became every man for himself. A refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions began as Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb civilians in both Srpska and Krajina began to flee in fear of what the ‘Mujahadeen’ and ‘Ustache’ governments would do to them. To the surprise of outside observers, many in Serbia were actually angry at Srpska’s officials as much as the West, believing their own stupidity and rejection of the peace deal Milosevic had supported had led to this calamity. These feelings were not helped by the gigantic refugee crisis that flooded into Serbia that the Milosevic regime was completely unable to deal with. By the end of Summer, nearly one and a half million ethnic Serbs had fled to Serbia, an increase of roughly 10% to the population over only a few months. And of course, the sanctioned and destitute state of Serbia was ill-equipped to deal with the financial necessities and social tensions of the new refugee population, the sanctions unrelenting as Milosevic refused to hand over suspected war criminals from the Srpska and Krajina governments. It was this unenviable circumstance, accused of being a traitor by the militant nationalists and an abandoner of the Serb refugees by the empathetic nationalists, that Milosevic would be forced to kill two stones and come up with what would become known as ‘Operation Lazar’ in a last-ditch attempt to save his regime.

    For the Bosniaks, it was a total triumph, with President Izetbegović announcing on July 3rd that the Siege of Srebrenica had been lifted, thus expelling the last Serb forces from the country. In the coming months, while the world looked on in horror at events in Russia, a unitary Bosnian state was established with limited Croat language rights in traditionally Croat cantons along the Adriatic. The White Flag with the Six Golden Lilly Shield flew over the skies of a free Sarajevo, and would fly at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels before the end of the Millenium. The Republic of Bosnia would be roughly three-quarters Bozniak, with most of the remainder being Croat, and most Serbs having lost since left. Similar events would occur in Serbian Krajina, where Croat forces had celebrated the conquest of what had once been ethnically Serbian territory before fleeing in the face of the Croat advance. Serbia would decry these events as ethnic cleansing but repeated investigations by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia would ultimately result in acquittals for all generals involved in the conflict (with low-ranking commanders occasionally being prosecuted).

    The reaction in Moscow to this loss of face was utter outrage. At the same time, with NATO, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine all collectively refusing to allow the Russian army transit, there was nothing the NSF government could do except watch their ally meet total humiliation. Nevzorov would announce that NATO’s intervention in the Bosnian War would ‘Be met for a global tit-for-tat that a brothel like America would never have the balls to sustain.” This reflected the new mood inside the Moscow Government to find another part of the Post-Soviet world to put its teeth into and get the rally-round-the-flag effect that the annexations in the Baltics provided. And of course, the one dispute that had most enflamed Russian passion was precisely the one that the NSF intended to exploit. Conveniently for them, the locals were arranging a referendum just for the occasion. The time had come, Makashov told his Cabinet, to undo the mistake Khrushchev had made in 1954 and return Crimea to the Russian fold by seizing it from a disheveled Ukraine. But if Makashov had thought his attempt to seize Crimea would correct a great mistake, in due time, his actions would be perhaps the most devastating mistake Russia ever made in its existence.

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    "The Shackles of Moscow"
  • Forgive me, I had the writing bug and couldn't stop writing today, so I finished the chapter significantly quicker than I expected. We'll be visiting Chechnya soon.

    The Shackles of Moscow

    Extract from 'A Great Hour: The Birth of Modern Ukraine' by Taras Lomachenko

    Among the dwarves of Soviet economy, Ukraine had been among the tallest. Naturally, their economy was unenviable compared to America or Western Europe, but it was considered a relatively pleasant place to live if one was born behind the First Iron Curtain. However, amidst the initial fall of the Communist system, Ukraine had actually fallen behind some of the Warsaw Pact nations that it was leading. Its economic collapse was similar to Russia, with a budding Oligarch class and the resurgence of the Communist Party due to the anger with how privatization was shaping up. Perhaps the most rebellious region was Crimea, the only region with an ethnically Russian majority (as a result of the 1944 ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars by Stalin). Despite narrowly voting alongside the rest of Ukraine for independence in 1991, the locals quickly elected officials who wanted either closer ties or outright union with Russia. It maintained limited autonomy but the Crimean Republic soon found itself in conflict with President Kravchuk in (then) Kiev over how much autonomy it was actually granted. Of course, the Crimeans found many champions in Russia, including the cowed President Ruskoy. While he mostly walked on eggshells around the fanatics that now infested the halls of the world’s largest nuclear power, even he couldn’t keep himself from tubthumping over Crimea. The remaining liberal groups in Russia too were severely weakened by the increasing noise over Crimea that stirred Russian unity, which is generally considered an important reason why the initial conflict of the Civil War Period between the Parliamentarians and Yeltsin loyalists was finally closed and turned into nothing more than a Cold War between Kaliningrad (who were extremely quiet during the whole affair) and Moscow.

    These disputes were compounded by disputes over Sevastopol, the home of the Black Sea Fleet. The officers of the Black Sea Fleet were mostly loyal to Russia and the subsequent NSF regime that they correctly assumed would go to bat for them, but Kravchuk wanted to incorporate large elements of the fleet for Ukraine. Given that he’d presided over a 40% drop in GDP in merely three years, any sort of win was sorely welcomed. At the same time, the Supreme Soviet in Moscow had made their own announcements, voting in November 1993 that Sevastopol would be considered a federal subject of Russia, which went down like a bucket of sick in Kiev.

    The ascension of the NSF made matters even more heated, after the election of Pro-Russian Yuriy Meshkov as President of the Crimea Republic on nearly three-quarters of the vote in January 1994. Meshkov was in close contact with Makashov and the two coordinated their movements precisely. Makashov was determined by hook or crook to take Crimea, seeing it like many Russians as the biggest sore of all the losses from the transition from the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation. Like the Baltic Republics, he gambled that the West would not risk a conflict over something almost everyone saw as ‘part of Russia’ in ‘the Ukraine’. The referendum would be on March 27th, along with the parliamentary elections in Ukraine and Crimea, with regards to greater autonomy, the issuing of dual citizenship with (Makashov’s) Russia, and giving Meshkov the power of Presidential decree. Members of the NSF government, especially the Right Bloc, would loudly rant and rave about the ‘illegal occupation of Sevastopol’ in the Supreme Soviet. A dark mood filled the minds of Western policy planners that the long-delayed showdown over Crimea might finally be coming to a head.

    The possibility of Russian intervention was significantly more terrifying to the Ukrainian government who knew they would have to face a Russia that had yet to be thoroughly humbled and humiliated in Chechnya. But much to the surprise of Western and Ukrainian diplomats, Makashov would take a surprisingly diplomatic tone by refusing to state whether they would recognise the referendum results as legitimate in favour of seeing it as ‘a basis for negotiations’. The reason for the tension between both sides, of course, was due to one very salient factor: both countries ‘had’ nuclear weapons. The ‘had’ is put in apostrophes because Ukraine, despite having thousands of Soviet missiles on its territory to the extent that it could technically be considered the third largest nuclear power on the planet, had no actual power over the missiles themselves. Kravchuk could not launch an ICBM at Moscow if he wanted to as the codes and directional bearings all came from Moscow. Ukraine had a small number of gravity bombs (which could work but were not a great form of deterrence) and a large number of missiles that could only be blown up on the ground as dirty bombs. The problem was that these missiles had an effective operating range that was made with America in mind, and if they were turned around and faced east, the closest target they could hit would be around Mongolia. More importantly, it would take 12-18 months from scratch to take full operational control of the missiles. Thus, ‘their’ nuclear arsenal was useless.

    Indeed, the fact Ukraine was ostensibly a ‘nuclear power’ would be a hindrance rather than a help. The Western public naively assumed that a ‘nuclear power’ would be able to sufficiently defend itself, or that the situation would be too hairy to needlessly involve themselves in if the two nuclear powers went to war. Furthermore, the recent triumph in Bosnia and Croatia would likewise depress demand for action on Ukraine, as the humiliation of the Baltic annexation was erased from memory. And of course, it was a lot harder to drum up fervor when the thing that Kiev opposed was an essentially legitimate, democratic referendum over subjects that were rather droll to the average voter. Thus more hardline demands from Republicans to threaten force if Crimea was seized proved less effective than political observers expected. Indeed, Makashov went as far as to issue a statement the referendum was ‘purely non-binding’ and simply a show of will for the people of Crimea to vent their frustrations with their current status that needed to be addressed in negotiation with ‘an eternal Slavic brother’. Makashov even floated talks with the West about coming to a resolution in the Kaliningrad dispute. Indeed, observers considered whether this was a signal of reform within the NSF and that they had decided to become more moderate to deal with crippling shortages of material and increasingly food.

    Then, on March 21st, 1994, Makashov showed the world how stupid anyone who had acted as his apologist was.

    Extract from CNN Broadcast, March 21st 1994

    Judy Woodruff: “Good morning, Moscow has confirmed that its troops are currently occupying the city of Sevastopol in Crimea. It is believed that armed Pro-Russian members of the Black Sea Fleet seized the local airport and allowed thousands of Russian troops to land and take control of Sevastopol. The Crimean President Yuriy Meshkov has issued a declaration calling on all local security forces to side with Russian forces and called the invasion ‘the Crimean Spring’. We take you now to CNN’s Christine Amanpour, in Kiev. Christine, what has the reaction been in Ukraine to this?

    Christine Amanpour: “Good evening from here in Kiev, Judy. The reaction from President Leonid Kravchuk has been to order the mobilisation of the army and to denounce Meshkov as a traitor. He has called the presence of Russian troops ‘an invasion of sovereign Ukrainian territory’ and told Chairman Makashov ‘Three Hundred Years of brotherhood depends on what you do in Crimea in the coming days. Do not go down in history as the man who ended the fraternity between Russian and Ukraine.’ The Nationalists in the Parliament have vigorously denounced this invasion and talked of ‘expelling the Russians like we expelled the Germans in 1944’, even Communist politicians are openly uneasy about what has happened. At the same time, Judy, the reports we have coming in from Crimea are not encouraging from the Ukrainian perspective. We have reports of most men simply refusing to fight, accepting surrender, very little reports of casualties with the exception at the beginning of this crisis when we heard about security guards being shot at the Crimean airport. It seems that President Kravchuk will have to seriously consider how he will take back Crimea, especially since the Ukrainian army is highly unmotivated and undisciplined.”

    Woodruff: “Thank you Christine, and what about the Ukrainian people themselves? What is the mood in the streets of Kiev?”

    Amanpour: “The whole of Kiev is in stunned silence, Judy. Even throughout the previous months here, most people maintained a positive opinion of Russia, they had friends and family across the border, a shared history and religious tradition, a shared culture. But now, almost in a single day, several hundred years of connections have come to a shuddering halt. Even among more Russophilic Ukrainians, particularly members of the Communist Party, the move has been met not just with anger but with outrage. And of course, there are real fears that Russia might not actually stop with just Crimea. There are concerns they might try to take more ethnic Russian enclaves in the east, or perhaps declare, as some members of the NSF have, that the very state of Ukraine is illegitimate and that a sort of Pan-Slavic Union under the NSF’s heel would be preferable. It’s extremely hard to make predictions here but undoubtedly this will rank as one of the most significant days in Ukrainian history, certainly a tragic one.”

    Woodruff: “Christine, there have been serious discussions about the possibility Ukraine could deploy nuclear weapons in response to a Russian invasion. How likely is that?”

    Amanpour: “Well, during his press announcement, President Kravchuk said that if Russia were to make any further incursion beyond the borders of Crimea that they would ‘use all means at their disposal’ to stop it. That has been interpreted as a threat to use nuclear weapons, the question though is how they can use them, Judy. The only deployable weapons they have can only be used by slow-moving bombers that would likely be met by a Russian retaliation that would involve missiles moving significantly faster than the speed of sound that could easily take out every population centre in Ukraine. Of course, this would likely mean some form of nuclear reply from the West but any such exchange will leave Ukraine the worst off from the exchange, hence fears of nuclear conflict remain low. There were talks about using some of the missiles like mines along key roads in Ukraine, but again, it’s hard to hide such a thing given the inevitable air power the Russians will enjoy in any full conflict. It is believed there are no nuclear weapons in Ukraine either, so this further limits how Ukraine can respond to this invasion.”

    Woodruff: “How has the Kaliningrad government, recognised by America, the West, how has it reacted to the invasion?”

    Amanpour: “Well this certainly has been a source of controversy. The initial statement by President Gaidar stated that, quote, “While this reunion of Russian people has brought great joy to our nation, to betray the trust of Ukraine like this was an act unbecoming of its brother nation.” This was taken as an implicit endorsement of the seizure of Crimea, if perhaps not by violent means, implying that if the Kaliningrad government was to somehow return to power in Moscow that it would not return Crimea to Ukraine. That statement was rescinded and replaced by a simple statement that condemned the violence and the risk of war but once again refused to state that Crimea was the territory of Ukraine. This has hurt President Gaidar’s standing in the West, with increasing questions of his own authoritarian policies in Kaliningrad. Ukraine had actually agreed to recognise the Supreme Soviet as the legitimate government of Russia last year, so many people in Ukraine don’t even care about President Gaidar, but certainly, in the West there has been significant investment into Kaliningrad as some sort of Free Russia, something like what Taiwan was to China in what we may now have to call the ‘First’ Cold War.

    Extract from ‘The Wild East: How the Second Russian Civil War Changed Europe’ by Ilya Shevchenko

    Despite fears of further Russian advances, nothing would happen outside the initial seizure of Crimea. The eastern border waited with dread for the supposed Russian bulldozer that never came. Russian and Ukrainian troops eyed each other suspiciously around the new ‘border’, and Ukraine’s economic crisis somehow worsened. On March 27th, the referendum was performed with minimal issues, and all three motions were passed overwhelmingly. In his first Presidential Decree, Meshkov announced that since the 1954 transfer of Crimea was unconstitutional, Crimea was therefore legitimately a part of the Russian Federation. On April 1st, a fitting day in retrospect, Makashov would announce the official incorporation of Sevastopol and Crimea as two new regions of the Russian state. Russian troops spared the trial of fire they so desperately needed to expose their weaknesses before it was too late, flooded into their new conquest.

    The near bloodlessness of the operation, the visceral joy of having so completely hoodwinked the world’s great powers and the return of what had long been a region important to Russian identity since Tolstoy. All these things brought great haughty joy to Russia’s population (including Kaliningrad), replacing the food in their stomach with at least the joy of somewhat restored ‘prestige’. Makashov’s approval rating reached 80%, the conflicts between the Right and Left Blocs were at a minimum, and he’d seized almost the entirety of the Black Sea Fleet while he was at it. At the same time in the West and Ukraine, whose leaders had dismissed scattered reports of a pre-emptive invasion due to how the other reports of serious shortages and economic fears spurred the hypothesis that the NSF really did want to reach Détente, the reaction was one of utter disgust. That the Russians had so straight-facedly, sociopathically been lying to their faces during the whole process burned everyone but the harshest hawks. Clinton’s approval ratings once again sank before eventual victory in Bosnia brought it back up again. That the Kaliningrad government too had been a silent supporter of this process destroyed countless bridges, and Gaidar further tightened dissent over his ‘democratic’ government to ensure.

    This further cemented the NSF’s Victory Disease. But despite Makashov’s celebrations, his actions have subsequently been regarded as initiating perhaps the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century.

    The seeds that Russia would later be forced to reap were first sown in Ukraine, where the reaction to Russia’s betrayal was positively explosive. The invasion had caused a political earthquake that shook the Rada to its foundation. On March 27th, concurrent to the Crimean referendum, the Rukh Party under Soviet Dissident Viacheslav Chornovil, which a Liberal-Conservative and Ukrainian nationalist party, became the largest party after polls had given the Communists the lead for months. While the Rada was a mishmash of countless independents, it was no surprise that the Pro-Russian elements were pulverized in the backlash to the invasion of Crimea. In the coming years, the Rukh Party would become the main party of the Right in Ukraine. Chornovil would forcefully denounce the Russian invasion and make a great political fortune from the tragedy. One person who did not make great fortune was President Kravchuk. While previously many in Western Ukraine had ironically looked at him as the man who would stand up to Leonid Kuchma’s more Pro-Russian administration, the tidal wave of March 21st would sweep both from the political scene. Kuchma was accused of being an NSF agent and Kravchuk was accused of being a coward who let Crimea fall. Chornovil would channel the rage of Ukraine in his maiden speech as Prime Minister, declaring Kravchuk ‘Not simply content to see Ukraine collapse into ashes, but see Moscow steal even those ashes’. The speech was so devastating in the fervor that Kravchuk announced he would no longer stand in the Presidential election in July.

    The subsequent election would be between Leonid Kuchma, who needed armed guards to walk the streets of Kiev unmolested, and a fellow dissident of Chornovil and Holodomor survivor, Levko Lukianenko. Lukianenko was the author of Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence and on behalf of the Rukh Party would run for President. Previously his nationalism was unpopular in Ukraine, with many becoming nostalgic for the Soviet era due to its ‘stability’ compared to the ‘Cowboy 90s’. However, unthinkable even months before, Lukianenko would win 72% of the vote on a platform of reversing the destruction of Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal and taking it for themselves, moving closer to the West, and military reform to ensure the humiliation of simply letting Crimea fall into Makashov’s lap would not be in vain, removing Communist symbols and leading a comprehensive program of Ukrainisation throughout the country to promote Ukrainian culture and language. Indeed, his first decree was to rename ‘Kiev’ to ‘Kyiv’, the Ukrainian language version of the city’s name. Despite vehement Communist opposition, the subsequent direction of Ukrainian society would soon assign them to Reagan’s ‘Dustbin of history’, and even without his actions during the Second Russian Civil War, he is regularly considered the most popular President in Ukrainian history. His thundering pronouncement that ‘Crimea's wrists will be freed from the shackles of Moscow!” sent his inaugural crowd home cheering.

    At the same time his uncouth ways were, much like Wałęsa in Poland, a source of diplomatic embarrassment to the West despite their essentially unwavering support. His comments about his ‘strange newfound respect for Jews’ in reference to Israel’s strident opposition to the National Salvation Front were bad enough. As was stating his ‘thorough support of Israel taking as many Jews from Ukraine as possible’. Perhaps the most famous (in)famous incident was a meeting with American and (visibly frustrated) Israeli officials who were briefing him on intelligence reports on Russian troop movements in Crimea, to which he replied how great it was that ‘Jews were helping to solve the problem they created in the first place’, in reference to the number of Jews in the initial Bolshevik government. At the same time, loaded with helpers to try and give him a more presentable image in the West, Ukraine was soon flooded by aid in both the military and non-military sense. In fact, some of that aid was initially earmarked for Kaliningrad, but the increasing coldness between the West and Gaidar had led to the much more significant prize of a Pro-West, Pro-NATO Ukraine. Certainly however, his Belarussian partner was more presentable.

    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz

    Zianon Pazniak’s political career was born in 1988. A historian, his research in the era of Glasnost led him to find something truly horrifying. In the woods just outside Minsk in Kurapaty, he discovered a mass grave. Mass graves were a sadly normal fact of history in Eastern Europe, whether it be Babi Yar or Katyn, but this grave was different. While the most infamous mass graves involved tens of thousands of bodies, this mass grave contained a quarter of a million. The lion’s share of the victims were Belarussian intelligentsia and nationalists, killed by Communist bullets during the Great Purge. The discovery led to multiple religious and political meetings at the location, giving birth to the Belarussian Popular Front, led by Pazniak. It was a Right-wing, Pro-Democracy Party that supported Belarussian nationalism and distancing Belarus from Moscow towards the West. Despite its key role in the protests that helped bring democracy to Belarus, they quickly found themselves shut out of a government dominated by former (and often current) Communists. In the 1994 Presidential election, it was widely expected that Anti-Corruption campaigner and Russophile Alexander Lukashenko would take power.

    However, fate had something funny in mind for Belarus. After the seizure of Crimea, a wave of horror took hold of Belarus that the NSF would target Belarus as well and forcefully swallow them into their empire. Belarus had received Latvian refugees from the north (from occupied Latgale) and opinion had already been turning against Moscow. The seizure of Crimea likewise obliterated Pro-Moscow feelings, especially given how two-facedly Moscow had acted during the whole affair. As if the world itself had conspired to one outcome, a recording of Lukashenko in discussion with NSF representatives over the phone discussing the creation of ‘a Union State’ was the final straw. Lukashenko would get less than 10% of the vote in the eventual election, his image destroyed by his own corruption. The winner would be the only person on the ballot who had consistently opposed Moscow and supported the Belarussian nationalism that the country was now in sudden but desperate need for, Pazniak’s BPF. Less tub-thumping and of a comparatively tame nature compared to Lukianenko in Ukraine, he still set a goal that most new school children would be taught in Belarussian by 2000 and a ‘reasonable Belarussification’. His inauguration would be performed by the main Cross monument in Kurapaty under the White and Red of the Belarussian flag, a tradition that continues in Belarus to this day. He also offered transit for Latvian refugees from Latgale to escape to Latvia, though he refused to allow the New Forest Brothers to operate along the border.

    Like Lukianenko, he soon found himself overwhelmed by American economic support to keep his support strong in the face of the NSF. But while Pazniak was of an altogether more timid nature than Lukianenko, saying of himself that he was ‘A scholar thrown between opposing canons’, both were consciously aware that their elections were in a part only allowed by Moscow due to their distraction in Chechnya and the disaster there. This gave both of them an unprecedented and once-in-a-lifetime chance to ensure the long-term viability of their states against an eastern assault. Much of the details would not be revealed until the other side of the millennium, but given that Russia would soon be practically no more than a memory on the geopolitical chessboard, the details have been revealed in rather astonishing detail. On August 2nd 1994, in a dingy warehouse in Budapest, representatives of the American, British and Israeli governments faced representatives of the Belarussian and Ukrainian governments sitting opposite. The two Slavic representatives explained the status of their respective nuclear arsenals in thorough detail while the Americans, British and Israelis calculated their capabilities. Eventually, an agreement (‘The Budapest Agreement’) was reached over a handshake. The agreement was simple: the three Western nations would help the two Slavic nations take over and modernise their nuclear weapons stockpile to have a genuine deterrence against Russia. Israel would come in particular help given its history of developing a secret weapons program. The British would come in help as their intelligence agencies would worm out NSF supporters within the nuclear program while an official story was broadcast that the movements were simply a plan to make a ‘country of nuclear mines’, like Lukianenko had suggested soon after his election. And the Americans would naturally be important in finding the money to pay for it all.

    Later that year, with full knowledge and approval from the Americans, on the other side of the world island on September 5th, representatives of Kazakhstan met with Chinese officials in Ürümqi in Xinjiang. The Chinese made a rather simple deal with the Kazakhs, for every five unusable intercontinental missiles they handed over, the Chinese would give a short-range nuclear missile that was capable of striking European Russia. By the end of the year, the first transfers would already have been made. The ‘Xinjiang Agreement’ was of a similar nature to the Budapest Agreement though of a much more cutthroat nature. China publicly supported the NSF government in many affairs, but they were mortified by the invasion of Crimea on two counts. First, ‘territorial inviolability’ was their entire argument for Taiwan, and secondly, the fact that Russia had been so two-faced and gone as far as to invade a ‘nuclear power’ led to the Politburo to agree that an alliance with Russia was a fool’s errand. To their surprise, they found that the Clinton Administration was quite open to covert warming of relations that would drag Beijing out of the diplomatic doghouse they were in since the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Thus, a rough zone of influence map was drawn up, with Belarus and Ukraine’s nuclear arsenal being considered part of the West’s defence effort while China considered Kazakhstan’s to be part of theirs. The two had radically different ideas of where they wanted Russia to end up, but both agreed that Makashov was a loose canon that needed to be brought to heel. And for as long as Makashov or his cronies were in power, that was enough.
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    ‘The Agony of the Empire’
  • In researching this chapter, I read a book called 'One Soldier's War in Chechnya'. I could scarcely believe what I was reading in the book (including the toothpaste section), but it seems that it is indeed the truth. Be warned, pretty much every chapter from here will be equally bleak, or even bleaker.

    ‘The Agony of the Empire’

    Extract from 'The Reconquista of the Caucasus' by Levan Galogre

    The thirteenth child of his family, Dzhokhar Dudayev was born just as the genocide of the Chechens by Stalin was beginning as his family was forcibly transported to Central Asia for collective ethnic punishment. This genocide would claim the lives of one quarter of Chechens and would demographically change the makeup of Chechnya considerably, with the Chechens temporarily reduced to minority status in their own land. In time, despite Khrushchev’s thaw inviting them to return, they still had great amounts of ethnic friction with ethnic Russians who had moved into their country in the preceding ten years (and indeed sometimes into their very houses). By the time of the USSR’s downfall, roughly seven tenths of Chechnya were ethnic Chechen. A veteran of the Afghan War, Dudayev would become as disillusioned as anyone else in the USSR in its final days. Motivated by a sense of wronged nationalism, he had taken an exceptionally anti-Russian view that Russia was simply monstrous on an existential level distinct from whatever political ideology it held at the time. In September 1991, he and a group of supporters stormed the Chechen-Inguish Parliament, killing multiple leaders of the local Communist Party (many of whom had supported the failed coup against Gorbachev). He was soon confirmed as the de facto head of the breakaway state of Chechnya, at the time recognised by no one except an immediately overthrown Georgian government.

    His subsequent reforms were mainly motivated in moving Chechnya away from Moscow, whether it be through latinisation of the alphabet or through the much more horrifying practice of opening the jails to the last man. The criminals, cognisant of the Chechen moral codes between tribes, were often reluctant to attack other Chechens for fear of invoking tribal vengeance and so would often target ethnic Russians. To make matters worse, Dudayev signed a decree that said that all countries that failed to recognise Chechnya (the entire world at the time) would find zero cooperation when it came to criminal extradition, effectively turning Chechnya into a bandit haven. It was so uncontrolled that slave markets were active in Sölƶa-Ġala at the time (or ‘Grozny’ as the Russians called it). The ethnic Russian population consequently plummeted from nearly a quarter at the time of the USSR’s fall to roughly 5% by the time of the intervention. Of course, this did little to help the economy or other concerns he was mad with power. The Inguish had broken with Chechnya back in 1991 to rejoin Russia and few envied the new Chechen state (or ‘Ichkeria’ as it was labelled in 1994 by Dudayev’s decree). It was totally embargoed by Russia for obvious reasons of unilateral secession being a horrible precedent. A domestic opposition had emerged to Dudayev, resulting in Dudayev dissolving parliament and becoming a de facto dictator in 1993.

    But the arrival to power of the NSF and its strong Anti-Chechen rhetoric completely changed the game. Dudayev, though popularly considered a failure on economics and on consolidation of the Chechen state, soon found himself swept in Churchillian winds by Chechens who were horrified at some of the rhetoric coming from Moscow. Opposition forces pledged their loyalty to him in the face of an invasion by a cabal in Moscow that they saw (often correctly) as intent to finish a genocide started in 1944 by Stalin. Then something even stranger happened as the crises in the Post-Soviet space continued to rise - Dudayev started to get meetings with people he’d never met before. Under extreme cover, American, Turkish and Israeli representatives began to sneak into the mountain nation and get an audience with the man they knew was about to face down the Russian juggernaut. Few gave the region much of a chance, but it was considered a good idea to cause at least something of a nuisance to the bear and distract it from tearing another chunk out of Europe. To that end, anti-tank weapons especially found themselves on offer to bring the Russian armoured columns to a halt. Dudayev soon found himself the subject of whitewashed portraits in Western media, ignoring a lot of the bad things he did to promote an image of a genocide survivor coming back for vengeance by liberating his people after he’s served in the enemy’s army - a modern Moses. William Buckley called Dudayev ‘The Horatius [at the Bridge] for all civilisation,” while Ted Kennedy would call him and forces ‘The last line of defence against another genocide in Europe’. But all these pronouncements were typically made with a sombre vibe of inevitable defeat, of inevitable slaughter, with Dudayev little more than a soon-to-be-martyr. Of course, few could conceive of how wrong they would be.

    Extract from ‘The Wild East: How the Second Russian Civil War changed Europe’ by Ilya Shevchenko

    In April 1994, in response to a Polish government measure to remove all Communist and Russian inspired insignia and symbolism from public (including the ‘Brotherhood in Arms’ statue in Warsaw) in a manner similar to Denazification in Germany, the NSF government sent bulldozers to desecrate and destroy the Polish memorial complex at Katyn. The remains of the Poles who had been murdered by the Communists back in 1940 were often left in open landfills, rubbish dumps, and some even taken home as trophies by local NSF members as a spoil of war. In the subsequent press statement, it was argued that ‘this site of Hitlerite murder has become a weapon against the Russian people and must be destroyed’. In the subsequent outrage, the Russian embassy in Warsaw was burned down despite the occupants being from the Kaliningrad government (and only a sheer miracle resulting in no deaths). Content with the result, the NSF set to work removing the few monuments that had arisen in recent years to commemorate the various genocide victims of the Soviet Union, and indeed of dissidents. The Sandarmokh memorial centre was likewise destroyed in Karelia, with the location tragically becoming a prison camp for Karelians to be exchanged during the coming conflict. Ironically some Anti-Soviet monuments survived in St. Petersburg, which had become a haven for Fascist forces both due to its Imperial past and being run primarily by Nevzorov’s Nashists even more so than the local police.

    Decommunisation efforts across Eastern Europe picked up speed as a result. The Red Army memorial was destroyed in Budapest with a Ronald Reagan statue soon to take its place, in what would be the former President’s last public appearance. Austria saved money cleaning up the nightly drunken urination of their own Soviet memorial in Vienna by destroying it too. The Bulgarians ended a significant portion of their national debate by finally doing away with the Soviet Memorial in Sophia by slightly altering the men in the structure to resemble Bulgarian soldiers in the First Balkan War and proclaim that the memorial was now about Bulgarian Independence. Even Germany would feel compelled to ‘recontextualise’ the Tiergarten memorial with accompanying signage in newly unified Berlin to remind the world of what the Soviet army did when they occupied Berlin in 1945 and in the years to come. The ‘Tomb of the Unknown Rapist’ as it was derisively known as by locals would finally be redesigned in 2004 to remove any triumphalism. Both Ukraine and Belarus would tip-toe into removing Lenin statues, with the last Lenin statue (outside the Chornobyl zone) being removed symbolically on December 31st 1999 to usher a new millennium untethered both to the past and virtually any influence from what was left of its eastern neighbour. Indeed, to the best of current knowledge, the last Lenin statues left standing in the world are those in the Chornobyl zone, though it's possible some may be hiding in the depths of Siberia, waiting to be discovered. Ironically there are still a few statues of Stalin in Georgia, though they are naturally extremely controversial.

    Though the laws were frequently simply written about Communism, the laws frequently became Anti-Russian due to implementation of nationalists wanting to create a new national consciousness. Latvia and Estonia both moved significantly to the Right after their annexations, with Latvia in particular bitter after seeing the refugees from Latgale. Following the collapse of the government, the new ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’ Party had won elections in early 1994 and become the lead party in the Saemia. New Prime Minister Roberts Zīle made March 16th a national holiday as ‘Remembrance Day for Latvian Soldiers’. This was a day in commemoration of the Latvian Legion, a Latvian SS unit that while conscripted, unfriendly to the Germans and ultimately so trusted that the West actually used them as guards during the Nuremberg trials, the fact that it was in the SS and some members were linked to the Holocaust made them extremely controversial, and controversial it remains in Latvia today. Despite this, the new Latvian government would cooperate strongly with Israel despite public spats, with Zīle actually saying Latvia needed to be ‘Israel on a budget’ in terms of being able to defend itself from eastern threats that denied their existence. Russian language learning was banned from schools as anything other than a third language on the same tier as French and behind English. Similar laws were passed in Estonia, Lithuania and even (to great consternation) in Ukraine by year's end. And to that end, it has been quite successful especially in Ukraine. While Belarus has only recently gotten around to finally removing Russian as a language of instruction as late as 2009, Ukraine had long since left the question behind them and greatly benefited from the subsequent unification of identities between the Pro-Europe west and formerly Pro-Russian east. Ukrainian as a language has since gone on to become a language not only with superior job opportunities to Russian, but has recently surpassed Russian in terms of the number of books that were published in the language. Quite the humiliation for certain nostalgists who talk of Tolstoy and Pushkin.

    Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi

    Perhaps the main division of the Right and Left Blocs in Moscow was not economics or finding a way to balance Soviet nostalgia against Imperial nostalgia, but the matter of how to resolve Chechnya despite them having very little actual difference of opinion. The Left Bloc took a view that the Soviet Union was the gold standard of society and that the Chechens were effectively a stupid little brother that needed a spanking. The Right Bloc fundamentally found no connection with Chechens and simply wanted them subjugated, or even completely exterminated. However, the Left Bloc had found somewhat of an accommodation with the Right Bloc, in that throughout the Russian government almost anyone of Non-Slavic or Baltic background was laid off in the name of budgetary pressure. To that end almost all, as the joke went, ‘Caucasians and Non-Caucasians’ were expelled from high positions in Russia and suffered a similar but more intense form of what Soviet Jews had gone through in prior decades (though what few Jews that hadn’t fled by now faced even worse discrimination too). Of course, this policy would end up being one of the many calamitous decisions that the NSF would make in early 1994, as these people would become the backbone of a new wave of embittered nationalists in the various regional republics of the Russian Federation. First the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and now the collapse of the Russian Federation in 1994 is considered by many historians to be a single continuing story of the agony of an empire, to the extent that some argue that the collapse of the Russian Federation was inevitable when the Berlin Wall collapsed first.

    With the Right’s silence bought in return for a free hand militarily in Chechnya, Defence Minister Vladislav Achalov was encouraged by Makashov to pursue a ‘Shock and Awe’ strategy of rolling into the centre of Sölƶa-Ġala in the expectation that the sheer presence of ‘The Second Strongest Army on Earth’ would make the Chechens surrender out of sheer terror alone. Barkashov demanded that his own RNU paramilitaries be used to suppress the Chechens, since his insiders in the army knew the state of the Russian forces, but the Russian military leadership was vastly less informed of the situation on the ground and got their reports from a mile-long line of sycophants desperate for favour in the crumbling remains of what had once been the fear of the Free World.

    On May 9th, a largely conscript Russian army largely in parade uniform decided to roll into Chechnya without even firing artillery. Almost all of them were sleep-deprived after having slept in the open for a week with barely any food - many had resorted to eating their toothpaste out of desperate hunger. Others had actually sold their own weapons and ammunition to locals, knowing full well that it would end up in the hands of Chechens because their ‘Grandfather’ had demanded money and refusal would have meant being beaten even worse than before. The NSF’s coming to power had only worsened the culture of Dedovshchina (Rule of the Grandfathers), which referred to the ritualised ‘hazing’ of new Russian troops. ‘Hazing’ is likely an incorrect term, since it implies something of an end point, whereas Dedovshchina was simply the unending physical and even sexual abuse by older recruits (‘Grandfathers’) to conscripts (‘Spirits’). People scarcely spoke in the barracks (if the troops were lucky enough not to be sleeping in the open) except in screaming insults and orders - mainly the form of communications was being clobbered and kicked by seniors. Grandfathers would have their own ‘spirits’ to treat like a literal punching bag, often to deal with their PTSD or grief, and to order them to get them food, cigarettes or amenities on threat of being beaten close to death if they failed to do so. In the most abusive cases, younger recruits were violently raped by their ‘grandfathers’, or could even be exchanged to another ‘grandfather’ to be raped in return for payment. Some spirits tried to make a sad living out of their inevitable and regular violation or were simply forced into their miserable career, leading to an endemic of gay prostitution and forced pimping within the military. HIV had likewise spiked due to the unprotected sex that accompanied the rape, as well as the spike due to the shared needles of heroin epidemic which was also ravaging Russian forces, as well as the alcohol epidemic. Suicide and desertion was endemic even before the fighting started, with many battalions going in on the first wave being only 50% staffed due to men simply leaving because they couldn’t take the endless beatings. Of course, there was nowhere they could go, as they’d be punished with desertion and virtually the entire Western border had become militarised and unwilling to accept Russian soldiers as asylum seekers. Many ‘vouchers’ had little choice but to pray for the strength to endure just a little longer. ‘Vouchers’ was what the commanders called the Spirits, because they were there ‘to be spent’.

    If one looked at the first wave of conscripts (by far the least affected by Dedovshchina as the Chechen conflict continued), they would have seen missing teeth, purple eyes and the gaunt faces of near-starvation. These thoroughly physically, mentally and occasionally sexually abused had no belief in their country, commanders, or even themselves - only the desperate need to get out of the hellhole of the military alive. This created a legion of troops that were ineffective, undisciplined but most certainly vicious. Food was in short supply everywhere in Russia but it was ironically worse in the army out of corruption. Russia’s corruption in 1994 was perhaps only matched in Zaire. The paramilitaries in many cases would walk into the army stores and take the food with the full knowledge of the commanders and sometimes even the troops. Dagestani locals were actually robbed by Russian troops who were desperate for any kind of food near the border. Many got lost taking positions in the mountains, and the conditions also worsened the already poor equipment.

    As they crossed the border that dire morning, they assumed (or were told) that the Chechens would be terrified at their very sight. Indeed, as they drove further into the country, they were quite shocked that they encountered virtually no resistance, or even people, as they rolled towards Sölƶa-Ġala. However, as they arrived into Sölƶa-Ġala that afternoon, the Chechens finally emerged from behind and before them. Having been told by American and British intelligence just when and where the Russians would advance, Dudayev had let them come right into his domain before sending his troops to blow up tanks in the rear-echelon (often with Israeli Spike anti-tank missiles), thus ensuring that the Russians could not retreat. What few Russian aircraft that were used in the operation (many more had been planned to be used but were not due to the requisite fuel being used for the parades in Moscow) to try and relieve the troops were slaughtered by Stinger launchers provided by the Americans through Turkey. Local paramilitaries that had promised to support Russia had likewise been decapitated (often literally) or subsumed into Dudayev’s forces due to corrupt officials in Moscow selling the secrets to Western agents who then provided the information to Dudayev, who quickly made local would-be collaborators very reluctant to side with a force so incompetent.

    Russian troops tried to fight back with jammed weapons, half-broken radios and fuel-less tanks, and the result was precisely what a sober read of the situation would predict. Of the roughly 3,000 Russians who entered Sölƶa-Ġala, only five would escape the cauldron back to the Russian Federation. Of the other nearly 3,000, the luckiest ones died immediately, while the captured ones were either sold into slavery or had an extremely slow and horrifying death, often at the hands of the notorious Kadyrov Clan under Akhmad Kadyrov and his twisted teenage son Ramzan. The father would infamously say, “There are 150 million Russians and one million Chechens, so if we kill 150 million of them we win”. Many, including the teenagers, had their decapitations filmed, with the VHS tapes sometimes even sent to their loved ones by finding letters from their family or girlfriends on their corpses. The decapitations were often with blunt knives, sometimes even with pens. Others were disembowelled with their guts used to write warnings on the walls for incoming Russian troops while the victims were still alive and screaming. While Dudayev supported secularism, he gave the Islamist and Mujahideen volunteers a free hand for the time being, seeing them as necessary to preserve the Chechens against a final genocide, correctly predicting the eventual confrontation for two visions of an independent Ichkeria.

    Western reaction to the disastrous performance of the Russian army was euphoric and schadenfreude in the extreme. Chechen actions against Russian forces have only recently been looked at in a more unfavourable light, though they were and often are today still filed under the Islamist groups that many feel were ‘separate’ from the world of Dudayev as he was portrayed in Western press. There was only so much 'It's okay to punch Nazis' or 'Reds are better Dead' that one could repeat to themselves before the sight of teenagers pleading for their mothers as their throats are slit would break one's soul. The Russians would retaliate just as ferociously, with no age too high or low to escape rape, and sometimes extending the humiliation by publicly raping daughters in front of their fathers or sometimes fathers in front of their daughters before almost inevitably killing both. The Chechen war was portrayed as the story of the modern 300, the modern 3 Men at the Roman Bridge, the modern Alamo, but they were all wrong, especially after news of the first few humiliations came to Moscow. It was the modern Eastern Front of World War 2, a war of mutual extermination, unbelievable and unfathomable hatred and suffering, and death so ubiquitous one forgets they’re even alive. Your corpse would become a breeding ground for fly larvae bursting your dead eyes before it was either eaten inside-out or scooped by spade onto a truck and into a fridge, or simply left there so you could be described as ‘missing in action’ and have your family cheated of benefits. If you were wounded, that would not protect you. If you were a women, that would not protect you. If you were a child, that would not protect you. If you were a baby, that would not protect you. The enraged and humiliated Moscow began to escalate further and further, but only further and further dislocated their supply lines, further and further expended what little qualified troops they had and further and further bombed Sölƶa-Ġala until it became ‘the most bombed city on Earth’ when they weren't accidentally bombing their own troops, and an ideal place for urban warfare like Stalingrad in 1942. Every single decision, whether to rein the troops in or escalate only seemed to get more Russian men killed for no gain. The first wave of conscripts to go to Sölƶa-Ġala would end up being the least abused, least beaten and most enthused, as the now escalated conscription now stole farmhands during the harvest season and now ensured there would be a famine in the Winter. But it didn’t matter, because to Moscow and Makashov, their whole reputation was riding on this war. They were willing to fight Dudayev as viciously and totally as Stalin was prepared to fight Hitler.

    The only other wars that could match that ferocity were those that would stem from the now imminent implosion of the Russian Federation.
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    "The Death of Russia"
  • For this chapter, I had to read a lot about Russian (and Jihadist) war crimes in Chechnya, plus other war crimes committed by the Red Army historically. Consequently, this is the hardest thing I've ever written.

    “The Death of Russia”

    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz

    International states can influence others by two things: soft power and hard power. Makashov expended his soft power almost immediately into his reign by playing into every stereotype of the monstrous Tsar bent on subjugating Europe. He then lost his hard power when he sent his troops to Chechnya and got them decimated. Outside the country, the diplomatic damage was already severe. Finland and Sweden had put off NATO membership requests due to fear of a preemptive Russian attack before finalisation due to Makashov’s rise convincing them that Moscow had gone insane. Now, seeing how mangy the bear really was in Chechnya, they wasted no time in making their applications. Finland and Sweden would both be official NATO members by February 1995 alongside Bulgaria and Romania, though it was hardly a secret that the latter two were let in purely due to geopolitical realities than of being anywhere near the quality nominally required to join. Japan had likewise intensified cooperation with NATO in light of the newfound menace from Russia and would discreetly mention the Kuril Island dispute any chance they could get. China had initially been quite supportive of Russia’s new government, but soon found the benefits of cooperating against Russia as a tool to come out of international isolation to be of an overwhelmingly higher nature. Though supporting Russia officially in Chechnya, as it was the same argument they used for Taiwan, they would provide a desperate Makashov with nowhere near the supplies required to feed and strengthen his army, despite the overwhelmingly isolated country offering eye-watering discounts due to the business risk of working with such a country.

    Elsewhere, Lech Wałęsa enjoyed his new sky-rocketing national and international approval rating by rallying Europe against Moscow and becoming something of a representative for the liberated Eastern Bloc. His invocation of Russia’s Pre-Communist, Communist and Post-Communist imperialism as one continuing expression of evil did more than Makashov ever could to undermine the legitimacy of the Gaidar Administration, which was increasingly being seen as untrustworthy given its guarded statements on Chechnya (with some officials actually praising the NSF’s invasion). On June 10th 1994, Estonia would become the first country on Earth (after the brief recognition by the former Georgian President that was revoked by his successor) to recognise Ichkeria as an independent state. This was understandable considering the economic devastation of the Russian embargo on Estonia, with thousands freezing to death in the Winter of 1994, and the fact that Dudayev had resided in Estonia during his time in the Red Army and had sided with Estonian nationalists while using them as an inspiration for his own nationalism. Estonia, in gratitude and spite, began the Eastern European domino. The next day, Poland would become the second, with Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Hungary all in agreement by the end of the month. The Western European nations, despite ‘Free Chechnya’ campaigns appearing up and down Europe, were reluctant to embarrass Gaidar and so refrained from doing so, but the Eastern European nations had no love lost when it came to Russia and didn’t see Gaidar as anything but a slightly lesser variation of Russian imperialism.

    Meanwhile it seemed like the rest of the world was sorting itself out. Bosnia had resolved their conflict and began to rebuild, Nelson Mandela became the first black South African President, the IRA declared a ceasefire in Northern Ireland, Israel negotiated a lasting peace with Jordan, and many other pieces of good news were coming from around the world. This made the contrast with what was happening in Chechnya seem even more barbaric by comparison. But in other regions there was indeed turmoil. In Cuba and North Korea, both countries were going through significant economic challenges that had been substantially worsened by the international dislocation of Russia. For now they would endure, but the incoming Civil War would touch the population in ways that neither they nor their enemies expected.

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    For obvious reasons, getting journalists into Chechnya was an immensely dangerous task, but those that did could report on horrors that few could conceive. The Communist Bloc’s talk of brotherhood was an obvious sham even to its supporters and the Fascist Bloc had never disguised their contempt for the Chechens. As pictures began to leak out of Islamist fighters standing proudly on mounds of decapitated corpses of Russian soldiers with the commander’s head in their hand, humiliation and rage filled Russian troops. It unleashed something akin to the level of evil that goes beyond all reason, that good people literally can’t even conceive because its nature is so alien to them. It was like the spirit of Dirlewanger had arisen from Hell to poison the air of Ichkeria to want to hurt and kill everything they could put their claws on. A Hearts of Darkness, except not in the Congo but the fringes of Europe. But here, Dirlewanger would not be reincarnated in one man or brigade, but seemingly all across the PTSD, alcohol, and heroin ridden shells of those who somehow were still alive in the Russian army

    Houses and other shelters clearly marked with ‘Children’ or ‘Hospital’ would inevitably be the most shot up and shelled. In early July the village of Samashki was burned to the ground with flamethrowers and grenades from drunken and drugged Russian soldiers with the residents inside, killing several hundred, the majority being children, some even ethnically Russian. Some of the dead children’s skulls were used as ornaments for the unit’s tanks with the name of the village written in marker on the bone. The Russians also ‘pioneered’ the use of public rape of both women and men in villages with the residents forced to watch while bound. It was an astonishingly brutal instrument of revenge and humiliation in the conservative Muslim society they were in. Many of the victims, regardless of sex, would kill themselves from despair soon after. Then came the single most horrifying incident of the conflict, the Vedeno Massacre. On September 14th, the entire male population down to roughly twelve years old in the village of Vedeno was executed before most of the remaining females were raped. Tear-ridden ten-year-old boys would try hopelessly to save their sisters, sometimes younger than them, from being raped and were shot in response. Female Russian nurses at the scene looked on and laughed, even encouraging the violence. It remains one of the two national days of national mourning in Ichkeria today stemming from the conflict, the other needing no explanation. [1]

    The details of were so agonising that when war Correspondent Christopher Hitchens would report back to The Nation about what he found in the village two days after the slaughter when Chechens forces moved back in, they accused him of being too credulous to the Chechen accounts despite having spoken directly to many of the survivors and literally having seen the corpses. “I remember the strange horror,” Hitchens recalled, “of realising that this must have been exactly how Gareth Jones had felt when he became the Cassandra of the Holodomor. Of ringing the claxon as desperately as your arms could carry in warning, and of no one coming to heed it.” In desperation, he sent the information to the New Statesman, who immediately understood the gravity of the situation when Hitchens told them, “Even if they’re Islamists, they’ve got to win this war.” On September 20th, the full report was published, and the level of international fury was so intense that there were genuine fears among cooler heads in the Pentagon that the West would be forced by outrage alone to launch a full military intervention, nukes be damned. The claims of genocide were now almost undeniable, and the West struggled to resist a nuclear entanglement that incoming events would mercifully (through merciless means) never come to pass in the world-ending form that many feared.

    Given this level of debauched evil that only the Dirlewanger Brigade could hope to match, even atheists like Hitchens could endorse the declaration of Jihad from Grand Mufti Khadyrov on September 30th, with an addendum that the Jihad would only apply to the ‘Muslim lands of Russia’. Dudayev had been told in very plain terms by the Americans, Turks and Israelis that the help he was getting was entirely contingent on the Islamists not doing anything stupid like launch civilian attacks in Russia which could sabotage his international support. Dudayev, from his command post in an abandoned nuclear missile silo, consequently made sure Khadyrov would not endorse terror attacks in Russia proper. But the effects of the Vedeno Massacre went far beyond a simple declaration of Jihad. Though it wasn’t easy to disseminate information across Russia, the level of societal collapse that accompanied the NSF’s continued rule had led to corruption so wide as to steer the Titanic through it. Despite the very word ‘Vedeno’ being banned by Makashov’s government to hopelessly try and maintain secrecy, it didn’t work. Dagestan found out. Ossetia found out. Tatarstan found out. Many friends of the NSF in the Arab world, notably the Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein in Iraq would be unsurprisingly quiet and would cheer Moscow for ‘their combined front against the Zionist menace’. But the Muslim population of Russia, who had mostly kept their heads’ down in fear due to not wanting to encourage the Fascist Bloc, now began to realise what the Jews of Russia had already realised: that the NSF weren’t going to stop with their mere submission, and that the main difference between the Fascists and Communists was only the speed at which the ethnic persecution would begin (assuming they hadn’t already died from starvation by then). Driven to rage beyond description, the Dagestanis decided that they’d had enough.

    On October 6th, tens of thousands of Dagestanis of all ethnicities (including Russians) defied the ‘anti-terrorist laws’ forbidding gatherings and protests to stand outside the regional parliament in Makhachkala and demand Russian troops to leave Dagestan. “Vedeno! Vedeno!” they roared, defying Moscow’s demands. The protestors further demanded the return of Magomedali Magomedov to regional president, popular for his efforts to balance the interests of the various Dagestani tribes, who had been kicked out by the NSF and replaced by a cabal of ethnic Russians parachuted into the region to manage the war effort. Smaller groups demanded Sharia, others simply demanded food. The scene was set for an explosive conclusion. Perhaps October 6th would be best described as the day when the implosion of Russia changed from a conjecture to an inevitability.

    Pamphlet written by Dudayev in response to the Vedeno Massacre

    “Sons of the Caucasus! Muslims! Christians! And all else whose was born from the soils of our lands! It has been many years since we came together as one! We were one when our ancestors were robbed, slaughtered and enslaved when the Rashist beast sank its claws into our lands over a hundred years ago. When it made its way down the Black Sea like the Black Death. Then in 1921 we fought together again against the Communists, dying as martyrs in the service of our ancestors. We lost and paid the price. Our women and children were violated and murdered by Moscow, sent to the death camps of Asia or to the firing squads by the Volga. For years, we feared to rise as one again. Now, in Vedeno, you can see what happens when we don’t. No army from Hell itself would be capable of a crime so great, but Russia is a demon beyond Satan himself. If we do not rise as one against this demon, there won’t be a Chechen people anymore, and soon after, no Inguish, Ossetians, Avars, Dargins, Kumyks, nothing. If there are any true men left in these mountains, if there are any with a trace of masculine pride alive or dormant within their blood, if there are any who do not call themselves cowards before their kith and kin, then the hour to prove your existence has come. It is our generation that must stand at the final confrontation that was centuries in its making! The final confrontation between the Caucasians and Russia, and only one will survive. But if we fight with all the manhood of our races, it will not be the death of the Caucasians, but the death of Russia. And though Russia has the armies of Hell and death and evil on its side, Satan’s forces themselves would run in fear of a Caucasian army. And even if the sounds of their cannons roar so loud that they bleed your ears, listen to the roars of your ancestors cheering your names from Heaven, for they roar louder and forever!”

    Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi

    The blowback had been gigantic abroad but it was enormous in Moscow. The Fascists accused the Communists of being ‘too soft’ on Chechnya due to the initial failure of the invasion, while the Communists accused the Fascists of being the reason anyone wanted to leave the glorious NSF state in the first place. A hodge-podge of equal but opposing delusions brought daily decision making to a standstill, the only impact being complete loss of control of the situation on the ground. Orders to ‘subjugate’ and ‘eliminate’ all opposition led to incidents like Vedeno. The casualties were astronomical. Though official announcements would peg KIA as only costing a few thousand, subsequent analysis, including from what few records survived the Civil War revealed that from May 9th to Vedeno that September, more Russians died in Chechnya than Soviets died in the entirety of the Afghanistan War. In order to resolve the now chronic manpower issues, conscripts from the farthest reaches of the country were called up, often with the brunt of the enlistment on ethnic minorities and rural peasants. While much has been made of the former, the latter perhaps held an even greater role in Russia’s dissolution. The scarcity of resources that was exacerbated by the knowledge that the country was on the brink of famine led to the various regions of Russia stealing resources for themselves, often with superiors picking favourites, and sometimes literally who would live or die.

    One problem with the conscription was that the morale of the troops simply could not have been lower. Desertion rates had gotten so bad that whole regiments had left, many carrying supplies for troops down the line who now then deserted because supplies didn’t come in. In response to this crisis, and conscious of the deleterious effects of taking so many conscripts from their work, Makashov in a spell of Communist nostalgia would announce the return of the infamous ‘Not One Step Back’ order. This was in some way a compromise with Barkashov’s demands to let his paramilitaries into the fray in Chechnya. Instead, specialised Penal Battalions were created, partly out of various Communist but mainly Fascist paramilitaries, and others being rich kids who bought their way out of the army for a safer time behind the lines. Their role was to shoot anyone who was caught deserting from the fight. The main effect of this was people going into hiding across the country before the drafters could catch them, or often crossing the border, where they were dumped in an already dangerously overcrowded Kaliningrad since no one wanted to cooperate with Makashov’s hellhole.

    However, the penal battalions predictably became among the most hated groups in the whole army for obvious reasons, especially that they were not in the front lines of combat itself. On October 4th, one confrontation between the army and the penal battalion in the south of Chechnya would lead to ten deaths, five of each. But to Chechens, the penal battalions would be considered the most monstrous of all the Russian units, and while civilians had at least a chance if they ran into a Russian soldier that he would be too consumed in other work to care about them, the penal battalions were a certain visitation of agonising death if they happened to run into any Chechen in the forests or mountains. But such meetings were rare, as these battalions were content to relax in Dagestan on significantly easier missions and schedules than anyone just to the west was enduring. The Dagestanis also despised them due to their virulently racist attitudes, escalating the increasingly fraught atmosphere in Russia’s southernmost republic. Thus, on October 6th 1994, it was the Penal Battalions who were ordered to keep control at the demonstration.

    The head of the penal battalion at the scene, Igor Strelkov, was a veteran of the Bosnian war volunteering for the Serbian forces where he participated in the Visegrad Massacre. Bitter from the NATO intervention that ruined his side’s dreams of an ethnically cleansed Orthodox Slavic state, he had done little to disguise his contempt for the Dagestanis as his company lounged in cafes with stolen money in Makhachkala, picking one-sided fights and refusing to pay for bills. There is no evidence that the demonstration in Makhachkala was particularly violent, though there were public displays of Dudayev’s portrait and of great freedom fighters of old. There is furthermore no evidence of an order from the top to start shooting. Eyewitness evidence and evidence from surviving details about Strelkov hint that his loss in Bosnia had driven him bitter and mad, and historians theorise that he simply had enough of seeing the Dagestanis, a Muslim ethnic group that spoke a Slavic language, as the Bosnians who had humiliated him. Strelkov gathered several men, went to a nearby tank, and took the driver’s seat. He then proceeded to drive the tank past the Russian lines, over the barricade into the crowd, and began to crush everyone he could see. Filled with shock, the rest of the penal battalion began to wildly fire into the crowd, causing a stampede that would kill further people. But the Dagestanis were not stupid, and had come prepared for this possibility. Guns were pulled from jackers while civilians ran in all directions. The Dagestani militias (many Salafists) fired almost as wildly as the Russians as people fell left and right. However, the sheer demographics of the tens of thousands of people in attendance soon paid off, as windows were seized and fire rained down on the Russians from above. Policemen fired their pistols from behind corners against assault rifles, taxi drivers swerved their cars into Russian troops and the (mercifully empty) parliament building began to burn. Eventually, RPGs were provided and the tank Strelkov was in was hit and immobilised. As the tank filled with smoke, dozens jumped on it despite the growing flames. Strelkov’s head emerged from the top, trying to fire his pistol at everyone he could see. One hand grabbed his pistol, another from behind plunged his fingers into his eyes, and when he began to scream a final hand grabbed his lower jaw and ripped it off, skin and bone from his skull. Most of the Dagestanis would get off before the tank and the remaining Russians inside were burned to ashes. Minutes later, cluster bombs from planes that were supposed to be dropping their cargo on Chechnya were turned around and began to be indiscriminately dropped on Makhachkala amidst the hundreds of corpses already filling the roads. Though the flames almost reached the clouds in Makhachkala, in almost every city around Dagestan, the sparks had taken on a life of their own. In a matter of days, those unlucky souls loyal to the Russian Federation that hadn’t escaped Dagestan were either in hiding or in graves.

    It’s estimated that as many as 1,145 Dagestanis and 89 Russian troops would die on Black Thursday in Makhachkala on October 6th 1994. It would mark the beginning of Dagestan’s Independence war, albeit one vastly less coordinated than Chechnya. Far from having a unifying, charismatic leader like Dudayev, the notoriously multicultural and multi-ethnic region suffered from a lack of guiding figures. The ‘Dagestani Restoration Council’ of leading members of the main ethnic groups of Dagestan would be announced but they would have to fight for influence against various clerics, some Salafists funded directly by Saudi Arabia. Devoid of order, Dagestan would be a land of fire and chaos in the closing months of 1994, as no one knew who was in control of what. The only thing they knew for sure was that Russian troops had fled the madness and allowed Dagestan to devour itself, hoping the splits between the ethnic groups would allow Russia to eventually swoop back in once the Chechen job was finished. This was naturally a delusional version of reality but in the paranoia and finger pointing across the halls of power of Moscow, many had already succumbed to utter madness.

    All the same, the effect on Chechnya alone was electric. Virtually the entirety of Russian troops in the eastern sector of Chechnya found themselves completely cut off. Some tried to flee over the mountains to Georgia, where more often than not Georgian border guards would detain them and hand them over to the Chechens to have their slaughter and mutilation filmed in pornographic detail. Others simply ran into the mountains and starved to death, horrified to leave and potentially run into the agonising fate of being captured by the Chechens - even indescribable starvation was preferable. After Vedeno, the average Russian soldier made sure to always have one bullet (or better yet a cyanide capsule) to make sure that he could kill himself before the Chechens got them. It’s estimated that as many as 7,000 Russian troops may have died in Chechnya simply due to the collapse of their bases in Dagestan. Russian troops farther north did not even try to rescue their comrades in the south, a testament to how broken and demoralised the army had fallen. To make morale, somehow even worse, Russia would announce that they would be pulling out of Ingushetia for fear of a similar incident as Black Thursday happening in a region that used to be part of Ichkeria. On October 23rd the retreat began, with the last Russians leaving on a thoroughly miserable Halloween, effectively making Ingushetia independent once again, though the loyalists fled with the Russians and were thus not liquidated. Some divisions ended up leaving as many as 90% of their tanks behind for the Chechens in a war they were supposed to continue fighting. Owing to Dudayev’s newfound hero status among the Caucasus, calls quickly began to rejoin Ichkeria, which it did in nominal form by New Year’s in the new ‘Ichkerian Federation’. This was mostly a propaganda stunt to keep Dudayev away from any decision making power over the Inguish, many of whom felt he was more Chechen than Caucasian.

    But it wasn’t just the Caucasus where the Russian Federation would crumble. On October 14th 1994, President of Tatarstan Mintimer Shaimiev would announce the cancellation of negotiations with Moscow, saying that events in Vedeno and Makhachkala had shown that Russia was, ‘A country not worth living or dying for, but we can create a country that is.” In so doing, he made Tatarstan (the relatively wealthy and culturally distinct republic many had considered a sure fire success if they went their own way) an independent state. In response, Makashov ordered divisions from neighbouring Bashkortostan to move in and crush Tatarstan. He instead received an astonishing telegram in return from Bashkortostan President Murtaza Rakhimov. It said that ‘If Chairman Makashov intends to make a Chechnya out of Tatarstan, then we shall make a Chechnya out of Russia. If you commit one more Vedeno, one more Makhachkala, we will shake this planet to its foundations.’ The divisions, many ethnically Russian, did not believe in dying to subjugate Tatarstan and stayed put. This was the largest open act of mutiny in Russian history since 1917, and all because the Bashkortostan President could offer those soldiers something that so many regional presidents couldn’t - enough food for the Winter.

    On October 27th, forces of the Bashkortostan and Tatarstan Republic launched an attack into the Russian Federation from Southern Bashkortostan, dashing towards the Kazakh border and establishing a narrow supply corridor between the stranded republics and the outside world. That any of the ethnic republics had the gall to do this was impressive, with even Dudayev not having been bold enough to launch an attack into non-ethnic republic territory. Though in propaganda this was entirely a humanitarian mission, with the Kazakhs providing food for the ‘starving Muslim peoples of Russia’, in reality, the upstart Republics of Tatarstan and Bashkorostan were given every weapon they could carry by both Turkish and Chinese arms dealers. Those very same weapons almost immediately defended the Republics’ lifeline to the outside world as nearby waves of Russian troops that were considered too disorganised and ineffective to go to Chechnya were recklessly thrown at the corridor in desperation to close it before it was too late. Because as one corridor opened, another closed. Tatarstan and Bashkorostan had literally cut Russia in two, as almost all Russian traffic over the Urals was done through the republics or beneath them. With Udmurtia still loyal to Russia but facing gigantic ethnic riots, the final routes that didn’t go straight over the mountains were effectively cut off. This meant that the 80% of Russia that was beyond the Urals were now effectively cut off from the 80% of Russia’s population that existed on the other side of the mountains. It would mean raw material from Siberia could not come over the Urals nor processed materials from European Russia go the other way. The lines were broken, the supplies were gone, and collapse was no longer coming, but happening. People were going to die, their wives were going to die, their husbands were going to die, their girlfriends were going to die, their boyfriends were going to die, their friends were going to die, their kids were going to die, everyone was going to die.

    On October 27th 1994, Russia itself would die.

    [1] - The targeting of children sites and hospitals was well documented during Putin's wars. The Samashki Massacre actually happened OTL essentially as described. The Vedeno Massacre is fictional, but a combination of Srebrenica and a real incident that happened in 1945 to German women and children in a refugee column by the Red Army, including the part about the Russian army women laughing.

    EDIT: Found it, unfortunately.

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    October 1994 Map
  • dffr8lh-bbb695ed-0674-4a78-9c5e-916fa6499734.png

    A map of the situation in Russia on October 27th 1994, the last day of Russia's existence.

    @Sorairo I think you should threadmark the maps so they be easier to find to the readers.
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    October 1994 Map - Alt
  • Basically to help keep track of every Russian Warlord no matter how small and how unrecognized, and give a brief play by play following updates that introduce new players or major territorial gains.

    The term "Russian Unifier" isn't accurate as the point of this TL is balkanized Russia, but that's to keep track of whoever declares themselves the legitimate Russian state, again no matter how small and how unrecognized they are.

    EDIT as of 10/18/22: Original Russia basemap credited to @Balkanized U.S.A. I apologize deeply for not performing due diligence and not remembering to credit him until I was reminded to.

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    “Who is God and Who is Satan?”
  • I am so, so sorry to the map people.

    “Who is God and Who is Satan?”

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    Viktor Vladimirovich Aksyuchits had been an eternal black sheep inside the NSF. Though he participated in the defence of the Parliament, his Christian Democrat Movement Party was treated derisively by even the Right Bloc of the NSF. Aksyuchits was a deeply religious Christian and a great admirer of Solzhenitsyn, who was widely reviled among the NSF as being responsible for the creation of the abomination of the Yeltsin era, especially among Communist members. More Fascistic members of the NSF would challenge him to 'offer his other cheek' after deliberately bumping into him in halls. Not unlike the Russian army itself, it was a form of hazing to make Aksyuchits leave his seat and have a more pliable Fascist or Communist take it instead. Sealing his fate, Aksyuchits would complain behind closed doors about the treatment of dissidents in Russia at considerable personal risk, including of Latvians within Latgale. On April 22nd, tired of Aksyuchits presence, Makashov expelled Aksyuchits to the Primorsky region in the Far East on the Pacific to serve as the regional governor to replace former Yeltsin loyalists. While technically a promotion, it was obviously a way to see Aksyuchits sent as far away from Moscow as possible.

    On the train ride to Vladivostok, conscious of the atrocities being committed by the NSF that he blamed himself for putting in power, he would fall into deep depression and refuse to leave his carriage. Then, according to statements Aksyuchits made to staffers later, he would have a visitation from Christ, generally interpreted as a hallucination brought on by nervous stress or perhaps even a complete falsehood used to justify his power. The Christ of the supposed vision said that ‘Like Joseph in Egypt, I have brought you to this land to save you. Do not despair, for this is the land I have entrusted to you. The final days of this country are at hand. You must build an Ark to save my people from slavery, and to save my Church from destruction. You will know when to begin.” Disembarking in Vladivostok, he was bewildered and quiet for the entirety of his early rule as the head of Primorsky. After the invasion of Chechnya and subsequent atrocities, he claimed that he began to regard the NSF as a Satanic entity. When the collapse of Russia began in earnest in October 1994, he realised to his quiet horror that perhaps ‘the time’ had finally come. But still, he was not sure.

    With Bashkortostan and Tatarstan having successfully cut off the routes connecting Siberia with European Russia, Siberia had effectively become a gigantic island floating in the middle of nowhere. This was not helped when, in response to Bashkortostan’s cutting Russia in two, the remainder of the Uralic republics decided to make their moves. On November 2nd, Chuvashia, Mari El both declared their independence from the Russian republic, the former mostly peacefully while the latter immediately descended into street battles between ethnic Russians and Mari. Similar attempts for independence were launched from Udmurtia and Mordovia in attempted coups, but the former likewise descended into bedlam (though further cutting off any route through the Urals) while the latter’s attempted coup to reach such a result was cancelled with brutal repression of the indigenous population coming immediately after. This set of countries became known as the ‘Free Nation Alliance’, an alliance of convenience between the Uralic states (and increasingly the Caucasian) to cooperate and take the supplies provided by Kazakhstan to survive the winter and coming years, as well as avoid what many saw as inevitable genocide in the same way as Chechnya if they were to allow Moscow to have their way. Bashkortostan had initially seized Orsk due to the shortness of distance to the Kazakh border in return for promises that the town’s residents would get food too, which they generally did. But in order to truly comfortably supply the Uralic nations they would need more rail and road links. To that end, they sought to expand their toehold to the outside world by moving on Orenburg. This helped create a Civil War that existed in almost two entirely separate realities: the chaotic, warlordism-style collapse east of the Urals and the relatively comprehensible moving conflict between generally defined states to its west.

    For Siberia, the first independence movement to arise beyond the Urals was from an unlikely source. From an impoverished background and facing discrimination from his half Tuvan heritage before becoming a high-ranking minister in the new Yeltsin government and ultimately being cast aside due to his ethnicity and sent in exile to Tuva, Sergei Shoigu should have been an inspiring figure. But unfortunately for this view of history, his corruption was of astronomical levels, even for the Yeltsin administration. Though it was for the wrong reasons, his firing was deserved. Licking his wounds, he took to bitterly drinking in Tuva as the news from Chechnya grew increasingly detached from reality. Tuva was also denied a planned referendum on the precedence of Tuvan law over Russian by the new NSF government, further fueling resentment. Ethnic tensions between Russians and Tuvans were beyond boiling point, unemployment was the highest in the country. Crime in Tuva was so astronomical that if it was an independent state it would have the highest murder rate of any state in the world. Even to Russians, the Tuvans were stereotyped as overly alcoholic and aggressive. Given these conditions, it’s no surprise that Shoigu would be tempted by mysterious Asian gentlemen at his door, offering astronomical sums of money in return for cooperation for ‘their dream’ - a newly independent Tuva. Tuva had been independent as recently as World War 2 so this made sense. But the Asian gentlemen were not telling the full truth: it was not a case of of them wanting Tuva to be out of Russia’s pocket, but that in their pocket instead. Shoigu, wise to the art of negotiation, let it slip that they were not the first Asian gentlemen that came to him, although they were from a slightly different country. This forced the Mongolian agents to attempt to outbid the Chinese that came before them. As terror began to sweep a whole continent’s worth of land in early November, armed gunmen broke into the Tuvan Parliament and killed almost the entirety of the imposed NSF caretakers. Shoigu, who was not even let in on the planning session by the Pro-Mongolian paramilitaries given that he had no experience outside bribery and was seen as an imposition by the Mongolian government, walked to the vacant podium on November 10th 1994 to declare the secession of Tuva from the Russian Federation, if it could even be said to exist any more.

    The restoration of Tuva set off a wave of attempted uprisings that November. In the Altai Republic, an attempted uprising to gain independence was crushed by local officials, with most of the indigenous Altai and Kazakhs fleeing across the border into Kazakhstan, committing cross-border attacks for the remainder of the war. Similar attempts were quickly stamped out in Khakassia. But it was Buryatia that would prove the largest conflagration. The ethnic Russians made up nearly 70% of the region, but 100% of Mongolia wanted Buryatia. It was a historical region of Mongolia that had its population replaced with ethnic Russians during the eastward push of Slavdom. To that end, while Tuva was a nice to have, Buryatia was a once in forever opportunity for Mongolia to emerge from the Communist era as a new and vibrant state and reclaim ancient glory. This worried China given Mongolia’s own claims on its territory despite those claims being officially rescinded earlier in 1994, but it had its eyes pointed at the Amur River and paid little heed. Initially Mongolian volunteers were forbidden from crossing the border to join the fight due to fear of nuclear strikes from European Russia, but with a precedent of funding being proven okay the Mongolians felt confident enough simply providing the Buryats with weapons. Though the Mongols were hardly Israel or Singapore, their arms depots were actually in a better state than many Russian depots. By the end of 1994, the entire Mongolian border with Buryatia was in the hands of the Mongolian Unionists under Vyacheslav Markhayev, a riot police officer who had refused to persecute buddhists during the Soviet days.

    Looking at such uprisings tearing his country asunder from the far end of Siberia on the Pacific, Aksyuchits again wondered what the sign would be that the time had come to save the Church of Christ. He stayed in his office and would pray for guidance for hours. On November 10th, he prayed for answer for one hour straight. On November 11th, he prayed for an answer for two hours straight. On November 12th he prayed for three entire hours straight, again by himself. By November 13th his staff were beginning to complain about his habit given the issues arising from the draft situation and the collapse of supplies from the west after Bashkortostan and Tatarstan had cut the railways. Realising this was fair, Aksyuchits did not pray that day. Then on November 14th, as the day was coming to a close, an ashen aide came into his office and said, “Governor Aksyuchits? I regret inform you that Chairman Makashov is dead.”

    Extract from 'Second As Farce: Petrograd Vs Stalingrad' by Jessica Matthews

    The fall of Orsk to the soon-to-be Free Nations Alliance was the final straw for the union between the NSF’s warring factions. Both had concluded that until the other bloc was removed then Russia could not resolve the problem of its national minorities, concluding that wiping up the remaining secessionists would be a breeze like in 1920. Most of the Fascist Bloc had set up their base of operations in St. Petersburg, (renamed ‘Petrograd’ on November 1st). The Communist set up their safehouse base of operations in Volgograd, (renamed ‘Stalingrad’ on November 3rd). Both groups knew with certainty that the other was planning to backstab them, so they stayed in their main support bases, the Fascists in the north and the Communists in the south. In the middle was Moscow, a flaming powder keg with the police long gone and paramilitaries the only men who could walk the street without fear. No one knew when the other would make their move, but others were adamant that move be made, particularly Baburin and Astafyev on the Right and Makashov and Konstantinov on the Left. Russia was literally collapsing before their eyes, and the worst possible thing to do was suddenly start fighting each other. It seemed strange that they could unite over Yeltsin but now be torn apart when the country was literally imploding. President Rutskoy, the reluctant prisoner to this madness, desperately sought everything in his power to keep his jailors happy before they destroyed his country in the midst of their tiff.

    In order to come to some sort of understanding, Baburin, Astafyev, Makashov and Konstantinov arranged to meet in Tula on November 14th 1994 with Rutskoy as mediator. The meeting was supposed to discuss a more fundamental division of Russia into a northern section controlled by the Fascists and the south controlled by the Communists in a new federal system. Makashov, Konstantinov and Rutskoy got on their plane in Moscow and flew into the sky. Two minutes into flight, an onboard bomb exploded, causing the plane to crash to the ground as a flaming wreck. Chairman Makashov, Chief Administrator Konstantinov and President Rutskoy were all dead.

    Both Petrograd and Stalingrad were in shock and demanded to know who had killed the Chairman. Baburin and Astayev were arrested and sent to Stalingrad as prisoners. Both blocs had been decapitated and were in a state of pandemonium, but others made the most of the situation. In Moscow, the RNU paramilitaries were quicker on the draw than their Communist counterparts, securing the main government buildings in the city centre despite being shelled from the south on the other side of the Moskva River. With the help of surrounding army units who suspected the Fascists were behind the killing, attempted crossings of the Moskva River by the RNU were repulsed, splitting Moscow in two between the south bank controlled by the Stalingrad government and the north controlled by the Petrograd government. For those unlucky enough to be Caucasian or Central Asian in the north side of Moscow at the time, the RNU took the surprising step of organising a ceasefire on November 19th so Moscow could ‘Cleanse itself’. With that, for two days, a ceasefire was held in Moscow so that the Non-Slavic population would leave. Barkashov, who was leading the fighting in Moscow on the ground, would record that it “Was an uplifting sight, like the mucus flowing out from a zit - the knowledge that a poison was visibly leaving the body.” On the other side, the Communists were similarly unmoored from reality. While most of the refugees from the north wanted away from the carnage, almost the entire male population of the refugees were stopped, given a rifle with often less than five bullets and told they would be staying in Moscow to defend the city from the Fascists. There wasn’t much of a choice in the matter. Some families stayed to help their imprisoned husbands and fathers while others were loudly told by those same husbands and fathers to get out of the country while they still could. Moscow, spared destruction in both World Wars, now faced the greatest destruction and carnage it had faced in its entire history. To eliminate the propaganda victory of the Fascists seizing both St. Basil’s and the Kremlin, precious artillery was wasted, flattening the great wonders of civilisation. By early December, both only existed in memory beneath a pile of smouldering rubble along the Moskva river. A city of ten million people now prepared to destroy itself.

    While the Battle of Moscow had begun, the new lines of the major conflict of the Second Russian Civil War would slowly work themselves out. They began along the Dnieper, with battle raging in Smolensk. The next natural line of division was the Moskva River, but the Volga Federal District was entirely in the hands of the Reds and secessionists all the way up to the Northwestern District, which should have been entirely in the hands of the Fascists. That was until the Komi Republic threw a spanner in the works and announced that they too would be seceding on November 20th, declaring neutrality in the conflict between the NSF’s factions and promising to defend their homeland against an invasion from either party. What both the Fascists and Communists had failed to realise was that Komi had been the location where multitudes of Stalinist-era prisoners had been sent. Consequently, the republic had raised one of the most anti-dictatorship populations in the whole of Russia. While the indigenous Komi were a small minority, the ethnically Russian population likewise wanted nothing to do with either the Fascists or Communists. With Siberia completely cut off, both parties essentially stopped caring about its existence, knowing the real war was going to be in European Russia.

    This left a considerably larger population in the region controlled by Stalingrad compared to Petrograd, but they were caught facing an attack from all sides. They had to defend their east and south from the Free Nations Alliance. Initially both Petrograd and Stalingrad would rule by committee, but Stalingrad’s descent into pure one-man rule was made when Gennady Zyuganov was dragged from his bed by members of the security force on November 26th in Stalingrad and thrown into the same rat-infested cell as Baburin and Astafyev, who were consequently forced to eat the rats due to hunger. In early December, all three were put on show trials by Ilyukhin in a display of judicial injustice only seen since the Stalin era, which was entirely the point. On December 21st, all were declared guilty and were executed by hanging on December 24th. The reason that Zyuganov had joined the dead was because of his long-term rivalry with fellow Communist Viktor Anpilov. Anpilov managed to win over both Alksnis and Ilyukhin to his side to become the new Chairman of ‘Soviet Russia’, as the Stalingrad government called itself. The new government declared itself to be the second coming of the Soviet Union, where all races in Russia would be united under Communist rule. No more ethnic republics would be necessary or allowed, as Chairman Anpilov would already have their best interest in mind.

    In the north, the Petrograd government was slightly more functional and did not need Anpilov-style purges to resolve infighting. Barkashov had risen up the ranks to be perhaps the main battlefield commander with ‘Black Colonel’ Alksnis being his main opponent in the military field, duking it out in Moscow while also giving orders affecting the rest of the line. Back in Petrograd itself, the Fascists let their ‘new’ slogan hang from every building: “Russia for the Russians!” The security forces had been split but Limonov himself had decided to stay with the Petrograd government as he felt the permanent victory of the Slavic race was more important than the temporary loss of socialism as the economic structure of the Russian state. Nevzorov became something of a face for the Petrograd government, but he was increasingly listening to the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from Dugin, who had taken a near Rasputin-like role in the new government. The nitty gritty of trying to work out how the state would actually function was given to Shafarevich, who calculated that the famine in the Fascist controlled regions of ‘Nationalist Russia’ would be ‘beyond the 1930s’ unless immediate action was taken. Like in the Communist regions, attempting to leave Russia was punishable by being shot, since no sane person wanted to stay in what had become of what was only ten years ago a dull but livable place. Very quickly, Nevzorov hatched a plan.

    On December 3rd in the Karelian Republic, Nashist paramilitaries went door to door, grabbing any ethnic Karelians and Finns that they could, initially in the name of crushing an attempted rebellion. After they were herded into hastily constructed concentration camps, they shocked the world by taking pictures of the deed themselves and sending them to Finland. The Karelians were being abused, beaten and raped, but purposefully not killed. The Fascists made an offer to the Finnish government, and any government, that they would hand over the imprisoned Karelians and Finns in return for large quantities of food and medicine. They would even allow observers to show all the food would not leave the civilian regions. No guns, no money, just food and medicine so that ‘Russian children, our one priority, do not starve’. It had been a smart calculation that played into Western sensibilities, especially given fears that the Fascists would immediately begin shooting all non-Russians given their slogan. The carrot of lives being saved in terms of both the Karelians and Russian children, along with the stick implication of what would happen to the Karelians if they didn’t, was enough to move the Finns into action. On December 20th, the first large shipments of basic food were driven to Vyborg and in St. Petersburg within the day. True to Nevzorov’s words, the food did not leave Petrograd and was primarily given to vulnerable groups. Also true to their word, the Karelians were funelled across the border into Finland, given a warm home and protection while the luckiest Russian refugees could expect a crammed boat ride into a Kaliningrad even more crammed than the boat.

    Then on December 22nd, the world began to realise what the game was. On that date, Nashi paramilitaries began rounding up the entirety of the ethnically Latvian population in Latgale, including those loyal to the regime, as well as the few Estonians left in Narva and Petrograd. They were likewise put in concentration camps and prisons, subject to beatings, rape and torture, though NSF supporters (generally Communists) would typically be the only ones killed and overwhelmingly by fellow prisoners. The same deal was offered - by now, Petrograd had gotten cocky enough to start putting individual prices on their prisoners’ heads. In general, women were sold for a higher price than men while children were sold for a higher price than adults. Their price was dictated in kilos of bread, litres of morphine, and various other forms of food and medicine with a meticulous exchange system calculated personally by Shafarevich to ensure they could squeeze the West for all they were worth. Through gritted teeth, the West again agreed, sending the necessary food over the Latvian border on January 10th with Latvians and Estonians being escorted over the border with rifles to their backs. In a separate deal with the Americans, they were able to hand over Gorbachev in return for another gigantic payday of food and medicine, with the former Soviet leader and his wife unceremoniously pushed over from Narva into the West on January 30th, heartbroken but alive.

    Nevzorov had found his hostage exchanges a sly but effective way to relieve the famine. Sly in that it indirectly helped the war effort by food not needing to be shipped back to home and effective because Petrograd soon became a vastly more livable city than Stalingrad, whose answer to every question was to imagine what the demon on Stalin’s shoulder would tell him to do. At the same time, he was extremely cautious of pulling something similar with his small but still present Jewish minority. Of the Jews who had lived in Russia in October 1993, 80% of them had already fled by the time that Makashov’s plane hit the dirt. There were just under 500,000 Jews in Russia under Yeltsin and now only 80,000 were estimated to be left in Russia. Only 20,000 were estimated to be left in Nevorov’s territory, but that was still 20,000 Jews too many to Israel. Recognising the danger that mistreating Jews could lead to comparisons to the Nazis and intervention, Nevzorov announced on December 26th that all Jews were free to leave his territory to locations Petrograd was not at war with. The last few Jews in northern Russia took the final buses from Petrograd to Narva, relieved to finally be safe before being taken on plane to Israel. Among them was not notorious NSF acolyte Vladimir Zhrinovsky, found stabbed to death in a crumbling apartment block in Moscow in what most historians agree was a hit by Barkashov due to Zhrinovsky's Jewish heritage that he refused to acknowledge. But while Jewish refugees took the plane to Israel, coming from Israel were other planes that were landing in quiet fields in northern Russia. They were planes loaded with fuel, rubber, and a host of other resources necessary for warfare with the Communists in the south. While Israel held firm on not handing over weapons to Petrograd, they compromised by giving materials that were not necessarily for conflict. America too was in the know about this but did not want to deal with the outcry of ‘Second Holocaust’ or of funding Petrograd indirectly, and supported Israel’s decision to be a covert cat’s paw. The details of the deal were not published until 2008, with Rabin coming under severe criticism for his role in supporting the Petrograd government, even if for the right reasons.

    Unfortunately, Nevzorov was not interested in dealing with the Caucasians in the same way.

    Extract from 'The Reconquista of the Caucasus' by Levan Galogre

    The coolest head in all the Caucasus as Russia collapsed was Dudayev. Others rejoiced at the thought of Russia in agony, while others trembled in fear of nuclear exchange. On November 14th, Dudayev was told moments before a phone call with the new government of ‘The Confederation of Dagestan’ that Makashov’s plane had crashed. Dudayev proceeded to have the meeting with Dagestan representatives as if nothing happened, insisting to his Dagestani colleagues to discuss business immediately rather than later. Dudayev had an increasing sense of personal and historical destiny at work and was ready to do all he could to remove Russian influence from the Caucasus. With the Russians distracted elsewhere, Dudayev launched his final attack on December 11th, attacking the few remaining Russians in the northern part of Chechnya. On December 21st, the last ever Russian boot on Chechen soil stepped back over the border, giving Ichkeria her independence day. While most Chechens celebrated, Dudayev spent the day placing the first brick at the memorial site at Vedeno, his mind transfixed not on Chechnya’s independence but the elimination of Russia itself. Only a Pole, or maybe a Latvian, could comprehend the levels of Dudayev’s feelings towards his neighbour.

    The next domino to fall was ironically not in Russia, but Georgia. On November 20th, taking advantage of Russia’s implosion, Georgia restarted their war in South Ossetia, the breakaway republic located along the border. With only 50,000 people in the whole statelet, it barely stood a chance. Lyudvig Chibirov, the head of South Ossetia, dejectedly escaped across the border on the morning of December 22nd as the country he had helped build (with Russia) came tumbling down. But bizarrely, the moment he crossed the border, he found himself confronted by a group of ‘exceptionally attractive’ Ossetian women, who claimed to be from the North Ossetian government. The car then proceeded to take him to Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, where he was astonished to find a ticker-tape parade arranged for him and crowds cheering his name. When he saw the banner ‘Welcome, President of Ossetia’, he finally realised what had happened. North Ossetia, knowing their southern chance of independence was doomed, had seceded from Russia and wanted to be an independent state, with the people wanting a proven Ossetian fighter to represent them. Chibirov had the peculiar experience of having lost and gained a country in a single day. In particular black humour, he was brought to a podium to give a speech to accept a role he had no idea he had until minutes before. An awkward speech began, but not wanting to disappoint given the circumstance, he reluctantly accepted the offer. That evening he was given a surprisingly cordial call by Dudayev in the city hall. Dudayev explained that he would need all of the Caucasus to rise up to finish off Russian influence for good, and that he was ‘happy to have someone on our side who had also served with the Russians, like me’. His work with ethnic Russians also helped convince local ethnic Russians of their safety, with Ossetia emerging as one of the only Post-War Caucasus nations with a substantial Russian population. His appointment did, however, create an extremely awkward relationship with Georgia. South Ossetia also suffered the indignity of being the only one of the Georgian breakaways to implode. Much to Abkhazia’s relief, Georgia was too wary of trying to retake the republic by force, eventually negotiating a deal where Abkhazia swore off independence de jure so that it could be independent de facto in April 1995. There would be no war in Georgia after the fall of South Ossetia, but the largest of the Caucasian conflicts was only beginning.

    On Christmas Day 1994, the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria was already dealing with an exodus of Russians trying to escape over the border and those fleeing north. The Kabardin people now made up a majority of the small republic, and with the Balkars their demographic alliance hardened. Christmas meant nothing to most Muslims, but to the Muslims and atheists of the Kabardin tribe, this Christmas would be the most important Christmas of their lives. An armed mob of Caucasian nationalists, inspired by Dudayev, stormed the parliament building in Nalchik. It was there that they raised a new flag, or perhaps an old flag. It was green, had twelve stars and three arrows. It was actually the flag of the Republic of Adygea, but that wasn’t what they meant. Among the women at the base of the Parliament, many wept in joy. Other Caucasians at the scene roared in joy like their deliverance had come. What few foreign observers were there knew they were a part of history. But it was one Israeli reporter at the scene who had the most visceral reaction. “I saw visions of my own country, crawling out from the dirt and the rock amidst fire and carnage to defy the world, defy the odds, and to pull a nation from its grave. I was witnessing a resurrection before my eyes, of a people long thought vanquished, returned to defeat their captors. Circassia had risen again.” After one of the most infamous genocides in history as Russia marched down the Caucasus, the Circassians had been relegated to a historical curiosity like the Picts, surviving only in a eunuch format in Russia and vague memory in the diaspora. Now Provisional Circassian President Valery Kokov announced that ‘Circassia has returned from the grave to seek vengeance on those who killed it’. All symbols of Russian power, including Orthodox churches, were burned to the ground.

    Only two days later, the neighbouring Karachay-Cherkessia Republic was likewise brought down by protests in the capital, and the flag of Circassia rose once again over the capital. Here however the Russian minority was much larger, and so pitched street battles began again. Other indigenous Caucasians were happy to go along with the new movement, seeing the Circassian movement as one primarily aimed at hurting the Russians and not any supremacy of Circassians over fellow Caucasians - the Russians were certainly spooked when they saw the Green and White bow flying overhead. At the same time, the stranded Adygea Republic saw the beginning of its own agitation. In response, Anpilov ordered the Adygea Republic abolished and any Circassians expressing nationalism to be ‘exterminated’. Circassians gathered their families and began ‘The Mountain March’, where tens of thousands of Circassians with guns on their hands and kids on their backs fought through hostile territory to provisional Circassia. Some 10% of the convoy would die by the time they arrived in safe territory on January 15th. But they weren’t the only Circassians pouring into the country. From Georgia, and Turkey, and Israel, and Syria, and Jordan, and all throughout the world, Circassians had begun to descend on the provisional Circassian government. They had left everything behind for this once in a century opportunity to restore the land where their ancestors’ dust lay. Nor were the Circassians the only ones. Among the volunteers were Latgale refugees, Ukrainian nationalists, Estonian mercenaries and thousands from across East Europe who all had a bone to pick with Russia and saw the Caucasian conflict as the perfect avenue to help out. If they could help create a Circassian state to humiliate Russia, even better.

    Extract from 'The Great White Void: Siberia 1993-1996' by Nikolai Chernenko

    Viktor Vladimirovich Aksyuchits never thought he would be faced with this decision in his life, but as Siberia became an inhospitable island, he suddenly found himself in just the sort of position he had dreamed and feared of being in. Of being able to create something, or perhaps lose everything. But even if he lost everything, there was one thing he knew he would still have, and that was his faith. Thus, in response to the carnage to the west of the Urals, Aksyuchits would give a speech on November 30th, proclaiming the restoration of the Far Eastern Republic. He announced that this Republic would be based on the Slavic Christian tradition, going as far as to declare the Gonfalon flag of Christ’s face to be the new Republic’s flag. Despite his later reputation, his initial speech was received by locals with laughter. They were not a particularly religious bunch and knew that they were probably the luckiest people in Siberia as Vladivostok was the only port Siberia had and so it was at least somewhat open to the outside world. The flag was particularly mocked as creepy, and foreigners still mock it today, though the locals are naturally far prouder of it now. Aksyuchits was considered quite out of his depth when the announcement was made, and many considered him a traitor for abandoning his ‘One Russia’ beliefs. Though he claimed the historical lands controlled by the Far Eastern Republic, he only held Primorsky. The only reason many believe he wasn’t immediately taken out was because people in Vladivostok genuinely did hold antipathy for Moscow, so far and distant. Many had Ukrainian blood from the deportations gulags and had a hint of rebellion in their genes too, but hardly considered Aksyuchits to be the best way to go about it. Little did they know that in only a few months time, Aksyuchits’s name would be praised from every tongue in the city. But for now, Aksyuchits found himself cut completely adrift amidst a Russia full of players out to take whatever they could get, and an international community that refused to recognise anyone but Gaidar. Aksyuchits would go on to doubt the wisdom of his decision in the coming days before moving in and out of paranoia about people, saying to one associate that it was hard trying to find out from among the masses, 'Who is God and who is Satan?'

    But Aksyuchits was not the only one seeing religious visions. In neighbouring Sakha/Yakutai, the morbidly unpopular imposed administration of the NSF was decapitated in a coup on December 13th by the Aiyy Yeurekhé movement, a Neo-pagan movement led by ethnically Ukrainian Ivan Ukhkhan and a Yakut philologist named Téris. The NSF had attempted to prosecute them as Un-Russian in 1994, but this only led to a broader backlash in Sakha that resulted in the Tengrist religion becoming more and more prominent, including among Slavs. As society began to collapse in 1994, the newly apocalyptic visions of Téris and Ukhkhan’s pronouncement, as well as the promise that Sakha would be saved if they would return to the true faith of the land, led to thousands of secular, ethnically Russian men and women dressing in tribal clothes and engaging in dancing and chanting in the middle of the woods to the rhythm of Shamans. Many Russians thought the whole society was going mad and fled as quickly as their legs or cars would carry them, often perishing in the desperate search for safety. Rumours of Black Shamans performing sacrifices in the woods began to swirl (mainly invented for propaganda purposes by rivals), with White Shamans ‘baptising’ crowds in the Yakutian wilderness by performing rituals to the Sun God. Desperation, fear of death, and starvation had seemingly driven Sakha completely mad.

    But that was quite similar to what was happening to Siberia in general. Naturally, there was no back up plan for what to do if the NSF went to war and everything west of the Urals was cut off. Instead, the various regions simply collapsed into anarchy as the food vanished. The only places close to order were the regions of Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, Kurgan, Tyumen, and Omsk. They nominally declared for Anpilov, but in reality they were run by a joint committee of Fascist and Communist members terrified of what had just happened and seeing the absolute worst of the collapse all around them. Outside these areas, law and order (in terms of NSF control) did not exist in the whole of Siberia. Not only that, no one even knew what was going on in, say, Magadan, or even Krasnoyarsk. Telephone lines weren’t working, no one had enough fuel to drive between cities, trains and buses had completely broken down, banks had no money, some cities blacked out, and millions felt the pangs of hunger. No one knew how many exactly, but even where there was order there were emaciated bodies on the street - one could only imagine the hell beyond in Siberia. Then, into Chelyabinsk on a cold December 31st from Kazakhstan with thousands of well-fed men behind him, came the one man in all Siberia with a smile on his face. On December 3rd he had negotiated the surrender of Transnistria in return for the lives and freedom of his men to return to Russia and save it from collapse. Though he left the Transnistrian separatists' dreams of an independent state to die, he did manage to extract an amnesty for the entire Transnistrian population with American guarantees that Moldova would be forced to treat the Transnistrians with some degree of internal autonomy. While 14th Guards Company was without any weapons but the ones provided by friendlies along the border, they were not afraid of being attacked, either Lebed or his men. Despite the setback, his men remained loyal. Based on the tear-stained reactions of Siberians as they saw him, they were loyal to Lebed too. It was strange coming into Chelyabinsk on a horse of all things, but to Alexander Lebed, it made him look even more like Alexander the Great, whose memory he would call on to begin what he saw was his destiny: to conquer the lands of Siberia and save Russia in the coming year of our Lord 1995.

    If only there weren’t so many others with their eyes on Siberia, including one nefarious dwarf in Pyongyang.
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    January 1995 Map
  • A bit of guesswork for this one (did the Fascist take the Arctic Sea coast in Komi's north?) in addition to labeling the rest of Siberia as de-facto anarchy. I know Komi and the Far East aren't declaring themselves the legitimate Russian government (at least not right now who knows), but the word is a nice catch-all term for ethnic Russian/majority Russian states here.
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    January 1995 Map - Alt
  • dfg22xb-29e48687-734e-4342-bb04-7b0c3c203ec9.png

    A map of former Russia on the last day of 1994.
    Yes, I almost cried making this map.
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    "All Is Now Against Us"
  • So would it be too big of a spoiler @Sorairo to let us know with a simple yes or no that something nuclear weapony (I'm willing to stretch that standard from non-detonating to obvious nuclear warfare) is gonna happen ITTL? `-`

    I'll leave it a surprise.

    "All is Now Against Us”

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    Lebed’s return to Russia was a near-miraculous event as he crossed through the Kazakh border and into Russia. Behind him were thousands of men loyal to him and him alone, holding weapons without ammo, but knowing that none would dare fire on Lebed as they marched to Chelyabinsk on full stomachs. He had been trapped in Transnistria ever since the Crimean fiasco, as Ukraine had cut off access to the breakaway state. A hero of the Transnistrian War, everyone expected him to be detained in the West as the NSF imploded and the threat of invasion into Transnistria increased. But at the same time, any attack would be an attack on soldiers of the Russian Federation so both Ukraine and Moldova were wary of potentially receiving a nuclear strike in case either side of the NSF had no means to fight back but no way to quit. In late November, Lebed gave the West quite a remarkable offer - he and the 14th Army would leave Transnistria in return for Transnistria being treated like Gagauzia and amnesty for all Transnistrians, Moldovans and Russians accused of war crimes or treason. In return, he wanted to go to Kazakhstan with his men to ‘save his country’ by crossing the border into Siberia. Once he explained the rationale of the decision, even the Ukrainians were ready to pass the cheque, and Moldova was told in no uncertain terms by the West to accept the deal. There were just under 8,000 Russian soldiers left in Transnistria, many recalled before the Crimean invasion in what should have been a sign, Lebed himself stuck in Moldova because the NSF were scared of his popularity and feared being challenged. The Russian troops dumped their weapons and left the infamous stockpile of Cobasna to fall into Moldova’s hands, who generally provided it to the Caucasians. In return, they were given safe passage from Ukraine to airfields in northern Kazakhstan (going through a very elongated route), before arriving at the border at around Christmas time. The Russian border guards, visibly gaunt, were shocked at the sight of the General returning from the wilderness, assuming they were hallucinating from hunger. They gladly opened the gates and allowed him and his men back in, many tossing their rifles to the unarmed army to try and not make them sitting ducks.

    Fuel was scarce, so out of necessity, a local horse was used by Lebed to march to Chelyabinsk. The scenes in Russia were worse than he could imagine, with scenes of hunger that Russia had not seen since the Stalin years. One village had a warning sign declaring, ‘Those who eat their children will be prosecuted.” In another, he was approached by an old man weeping after he had eaten his beloved pet dog and sole companion for need of food, begging Lebed to save Russia and end the madness. Lebed moved on with a growing sense of destiny. He had studied Napoleon and Alexander, but now a new character was growing in the back of his head: Aurelion, the Restorer of the World. While his mind about the NSF had long been made up while he was stewing in Crimea, it is likely that the extent of his views were hardened by the march on Chelyabinsk.

    The city let out the last of their strength to greet the prodigal sons on December 31st. Lebed was met by four different members of the NSF’s provisional East-Urals government, as it turns out due to their disagreeing over who was leader of that shambles of a state before agreeing to meet Lebed all at once. It’s hard to imagine a sight that disgusted Lebed more than starved corpses on the street, but those politicians had done just that while he did his best to keep cool. They asked him to pledge his loyalty to the local provisional parliament and to set off to fight Bashkortostan, many likely hoping for a place in the future NSF government when the winner had been declared out west. Lebed agreed, on the condition that he be allowed a speech to the ‘Siberian Provisional Government’, as they called themselves, and with all the leads of the ‘Siberian Provisional Government’ present. They agreed promptly, pencilling in January 4th 1995. Lebed thanked them and began to mingle with the crowds. Others begged him and his soldiers for food that they could not spare, but Lebed would assure them, ‘Hold on just a little longer, I have a way to get food in’.

    And what a plan he had. On January 4th, the heads of the Oblasts under control had descended to Chelyabinsk with what little fuel they had left. Taking their seats in the assembly, a few began to suspect something was up when members of Lebed’s troops were at all the exits of the hall. When Lebed walked to the podium, he had his full military attire on, and did not even attempt to hide his contempt for every politician before him in the room. Upon opening his mouth, he gave the speech that millions of people then and since have dreamed of making.

    Lebed’s Speech to the Chelyabinsk Provisional NSF Government (in Full)

    “Gentlemen, three years ago I left Russia to travel to Transnistria. I met many people there, many I liked, many who came with me on the journey back here. The Transnistrians are quite like Russians, and their politicians are perfectly alike: cowards, drunkards and whores. I look at this assembly and find not a single man that I would trust even to carry a rifle, not a single man capable of leading their dog let alone a platoon, not a single man who gained their role in this building today without trickery, bribery or betrayal. The thing that has shocked me most about my return to my homeland is not that people starve in the streets, not that the country is in civil war again, but that the quality of our politicians has somehow gotten even worse.

    “What has your worthless party shown for its sole year of rule? What exactly has the ‘National Salvation Front’ saved? In return for Crimea, you have lost the whole country. In return for gaining enemies, we have lost our friends and families. In return for disaster, civil war, the destruction of St. Basil’s and the Kremlin, the flight of millions of our brightest sons, poverty, famine, and the eternal blackening of our nation’s name, if it can still be said to exist, do you offer us their ashes as presents? I left a Russia that was alive and I returned to find a Russia that was dead. I never thought any group of polticians could be that incompetent, but I should never have underestimated our esteemed political leaders.

    “Both of your heroes sent entreaties to me. Anpilov, Barkashov and all the rest of that Confederacy of Idiots. To the Communists in this hall, you can tell Anpilov that if he loves the ‘old days’ so well, then I wish he stood in the place of the children that were massacred at Novocherkassk before my very eyes. I spent half my time in the army burying bloated buffoons like him and will gladly add my fourth if he ever comes to face me. To the Nashists, Nationalists, or whatever the hell you bigots call yourself these days, in this hall stand men who were born in Russia, lived for Russia and were ready to die for Russia. You need only take one look at their eyes and faces to see their creed: Chechen, Dagestani, Tatar. For years, we stood together alone in the wasteland of that shithole, robbed and debased by the politicians. And I saw more of the virtues of Russia in just one of my subordinates' eyes than in every pore of those fat thieves. In my army there were no ‘Chechens’ or ‘Tatars’ - we were one blood fighting under the red, white and blue of our ancestors’ flag. Ancestors that tamed the wilds of Siberia, that defeated Napoleon when none could beat him, that defeated Hitler when none could beat him. And how those ancestors now look at you from the Halls of Valhalla above, only to wretch at the sorry sight of their sons. The German murderers that burned our nation to the ground now have taken the minds of own Russian sons. To have Nazis like Barkashov rule the ruins of Moscow. Did all those Russians who died to stop the Nazis taking our capital die in vain? But those Chechens and Tatars that fought with me as comrades from the mountains of Afghanistan to the rivers of Moldova and followed me through the steppes of Central Asia to return here, their ancestors look upon them with pride. And even those Chechens who fought against us, they knew why they fought, and knew why they died. And I just wish that there will come a day when Russian men can die with certainty in the glory of their nation again.

    “If I was to replace you with whomever I could find in the local brothel, I couldn’t fail to find men and women of finer calibre than any of you scum. Is there no law you haven't trampled on, no vice you don't possess, no depth to which you won't sink the remains of my country further? Is there any trace of male virtue in a single soul before me? Courage? Loyalty? Diligence? You rode the coattails of jackals and cry when it turns around to eat you. You turned my country into a monster and cry to save you - not my country, but you. You turned Moscow, the equal of Washington for half a century, into a flaming pile of rubble, and I ask the ‘National Salvation Front’, at a time when so many nations have been reborn across the corpse of our land, why is our’s the only one that’s died?

    “You have surely proven that, even if Russians are not suited to democracy, they are even less suited to political dictatorship! As my first order as head of the Siberian Provisional Government, I declare the National Salvation Front a terrorist organisation!”

    Extract from 'The Great White Void: Siberia 1993-1996' by Nikolai Chernenko

    Lebed’s infamous speech to the Assembly was partially an entirely honest appraisal of his opinion about the NSF with a deliberate caution about giving away too many of his own plans and opinions. His line about ‘political dictatorship’ was purposefully crafted because he too had little faith in democracy, but felt the military was a finer candidate for the role of the dictators like in Chile. Nevertheless, he had some understanding of PR and was conscious about being portrayed as a third wheel of the NSF’s power struggle. He agreed to hand over the NSF officials he arrested in Chelyabinsk to the West in return for food, ironically inspired by Nevzorov’s slave bartering out west. There was very little they could be done for, but the Americans especially tried extracting information from the ones close to the ruling circle about their willingness to deploy nukes, with many sessions at Guantanamo Bay devoted to trying to find out. But the main reason the West had been so tolerant to Lebed was not in sensing great humanitarianism within the self-described Bonapartist, but in promising to save the world economy.

    The sanctions that descended on Russia following the NSF’s rise to power were tough for Europe while at least the continent was not exceptionally dependent on the wounded power. The collapse of Russia in November, however, was exceptionally calamitous for the developing world in that the countless raw resources Russia provided were now completely closed up. Of course, this had knock-on effects to the First World, although the terror in the idea of the world’s premier nuclear power sending out their nukes as a final act of evil was enough to tank Western stock markets by themselves (“At least whoever put that bomb on the plane did it after the midterms” as Clinton would grimly joke that December). The economic impact of Russia’s implosion was causing real pain, and some of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Russia were now in a state of literal anarchy. Among them were the Norilsk nickel deposits and Urengoy gas fields close to the Arctic. Lebed, through contacts provided by the Transnistrian separatists (little more than smugglers of everything from guns to women), managed to get in touch with some of the major corporations in Europe. He promised them not only to return to Russia and save these cities from anarchy and bring them back to the world economy but partial ownership of many of these previously nationalised assets and cutting out the former Oligarchs who were their previous owners (many members of Gaidar’s government). Ukraine and Kazakhstan were likewise promised cuts, though Kazakhstan’s main problem was the refugee crisis that threatened to completely overwhelm them. Russians now made up an absolute majority of the Kazakh population and the region had to work overtime to try and transfer as many of those refugees as they could to the bedlam that was Kaliningrad. Race tensions were consequently explosive and there was real fear that an ethnic conflict between Kazakhs and Russians was about to kick off. Lebed promised to bring stability to Siberia and consequently reduce the outflow.

    How to get to Norilsk, Urengoy and Dudinka was a different matter. From the radio chatter, it had been revealed that the area had fallen under the sway of the local Mafia after they had executed the local NSF officials. After hearing of Lebed, they had put armed men at every airport in the vicinity to make sure he could not simply land and take over by air. Winter had made almost any sort of transportation in that part of the world a nightmare. With covert weapons funding from international conglomerates on his side, Lebed would begin his march on January 28th, on two fronts. He would stay close to the border with the intention of clearing out the entire Kazakh border and making the border region stable. At the same time, his subordinates would launch the more consequential raid northwards along the Urals. The best troops Lebed found were used for this as it would certainly be a grueling struggle. Lebed in the meantime would gain the plaudits in going through the populated regions to become something of a heroic figure to a desperate public. He would scarcely be able to believe some of the horrors he would soon see.

    In charge of the assault up the Urals was a man he trusted, Lev Rokhlin. He had served with distinction in Afghanistan, was popular among his men, and was resistant to the corruption that plagued the Soviet and Russian armies. By sheer diligence and brains, he became a Lieutenant General in 1993 Soviet Russia, something literally unheard of for someone like him. The reason was that Rokhlin was Jewish, and had managed to just barely get by the discrimination to gain his rank, becoming the first Jewish Lieutenant General since WW2. Then the NSF took over. After being excluded from the army due to his 'questionable loyalties', he reluctantly took a plane to Israel in March of 1994, after friends in the army told him he was at risk of arrest and assassination. However, when his country fell to ruin, he fell into depression in thought about what he could do to save his people. It was Lebed who had called him up and asked him to help him save Russia, or at least Siberia. Desperate to get revenge on the NSF, he agreed. Two days after Lebed arrested the leaders of the NSF east of the Urals, Rokhlin was driven to Chelyabinsk, becoming Lebed's second in command. Rokhlin was just as ready for vengeance as Lebed, and he wouldn't fail to find people for whom justice was well-deserved. [1]

    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz

    Kaliningrad had a very bad 1994 - there had been a delusional hope among Gaidar and his associates that the NSF could be thrown out relatively quickly and that the embarrassment of setting up shop away from the mainland would be over. Instead, the year had marked a number of extreme diplomatic challenges. Relations with East Europe especially had plummeted, as they had recognised the independence of all the ethnic republics that had emerged and lasted for more than a week. Gaidar could not endorse the division of Russia for obvious reasons and would say he ‘equally’ condemned Russian atrocities in Chechnya with Chechen Jihadist torture porn. However, to a growing number of Western audiences, Gaidar was just a more cowardly and money-loving version of Makashov. On November 11th, Sweden became the first Non-Eastern bloc state to recognise Ichkeria’s independence. The pressure was growing on the west, as most of the liberal left in Western countries protested to recognise the independence of the Caucasians. The only reason that no one in the West wanted to cause such an embarrassing loss of face for Gaidar was simply the refugee issue.

    Kaliningrad was swamped by Russian refugees. The population in 1993 was one million - it was now five million, overwhelmingly transported by bordering states to Russia and then dumped unceremoniously in a Kaliningrad thoroughly unable to handle the strain. The only other places with a smattering of sympathy were some of the eastern portions of Ukraine and Belarus, but the leadership in both countries put a strong kibosh on the idea of hosting any large amount of Russian refugees. The overcrowding was so bad that floating camps were constructed to try and relieve the strain. Parts of the city literally began to sink into the mud. The original residents were furious, the newcomers were shattered, everyone was miserable. The economy was nonexistent and the camps were too low a standard for animals in some countries. Riots were becoming a daily occurance, with the newcomers demanding better accommodation and battling with Kaliningrad police and the army as a result. Gaidar had by now effectively become a full-blown Tsar, with the parliament effectively little more than his boyars. Many feared another civil war specific to the Kaliningrad Oblast.

    In terms of recognition, Kaliningrad was still recognised by those Eastern European countries as the legitimate Russian government while tub-thumping against ‘Russia’ in reference to the NSF. The Anti-Western countries were united in recognising the NSF but the split into the ‘Soviet Republic of Russia’ and ‘The National Republic of the Russians’ split the recognitions too. Nevzorov’s government was recognised by Serbia (currently resettling its refugees from Bosnia and Croatia into Kosovo to make local Albanians a minority) and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Anpilov was recognised by a much wider array, from all nominally Communist governments on Earth (including China), to Iran, Syria and Palestine. Yet this very support would soon be the undoing of some of those very countries.

    In the first instance was Cuba, now going through the worst economic crisis it had faced in anyone’s lifetime. The refugee crisis to Florida was as bad as it had ever been and the newly hawkish Clinton Administration was looking for any way to prove he was tough after a disastrous midterm. Fortunately, he wouldn’t have to pick a fight with Cuba, as the Cubans themselves did what thirty-five years of CIA plots failed to do. In January, Castro began private negotiations with Anpilov, offering to send the Cuban army to beef up his forces on the battlefield with Iran as a conduit. In return, he needed resources to save his people from starvation - something Anpilov didn’t have. When news reached the Cuban army about what Fidel was planning, they thought he’d lost his mind, but Castro insisted that it was necessary to get the resources Cuba needed. Ultimately for the army, it came down to Castro dragging everyone down with him or dragging Castro down to save everyone. On January 17th 1995, the world was shocked when it was announced in Cuba that the Castro brothers were both dead due to ‘unknown assassins'. A special military junta was put in place, and Cuba would eventually negotiate a peaceful return to democracy in 1996.


    But the effect on the West was also profound. One of the primary social effects in the West as the Second Russian Civil War’s deadliest phase began that November was the renewed fear of the Bomb. Indeed, the fear was more tangible and on everyone’s minds than even 1983. The reason was that no one was sure that one or two of the Russian nuclear powers wasn’t going to send a nuke to New York out of spite if their idea of Russia was destroyed. Multiple versions of Russia were trapped in an existential battle, and if even one of them decided to send nuclear weapons flying, the consequences could be cataclysmic, especially if you subscribed to the nuclear winter theory. Stock markets plunged around the West, and most of the Western economies would be thrown into recession. Church attendance noticeably went up all across the West (ironically concurrent with a spike in violent crime) as renewed fears of nuclear apocalypse were on everyone’s mind. City-dwellers moved to the country, and some who couldn’t decided to send their kids to their relatives in the country in case a nuclear strike occured. Nuclear power became even more politically toxic and the United States quietly went to DEFCON 2, equalling the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    In the United States especially, the prepper subculture took off. Firearms sales radically picked up and militia groups were flooded with new members across the country. This was mainly due to fears of what would become of society in the event of nuclear destruction. When it came to the Far-Right that was scattered throughout these groups, almost all were outright supporters of the Petrograd Fascist government. Some Neo-Nazi and Far-Right groups decided to volunteer for the National Republic of Russians, among them Timothy McVeigh, an American citizen who flew to Finland and crossed the border to join the Petrograd government, where he would infamously be a handler in one of the ‘Honourary Russian’ battalions.

    Western governments quietly began nuclear war preparations, finding themselves even less prepared to deal with a sudden strike from one of the Russian blocs than any time since the nuclear age. Using the best of their intelligence, outside Kaliningrad, the main two NSF factions both had nukes, but the Communists had substantially more, including the Black Sea Fleet. However, the Air Force had generally sided with the Fascists over the Communists, with most of the bombers having flown to the Petrograd government’s side. At the same time, Lebed’s government in Siberia was also believed to have them, while it seemed the Far Eastern Republic was having problems negotiating with the Pacific Fleet. No one had any idea what was going on in Yakutia, as most of the secular population had fled and died in the attempt. Satellite images suggested that almost all of the cities had turned into ghost towns. No one had any idea if the neo-pagans in the region had taken nukes. The ethnic republics were without any form of nuclear deterrence, but in the vast wilds of Siberia, it was a certain fact that there were hundreds of nuclear silos abandoned and waiting for someone to find their contents. This was the thought that kept Langley up at night as much as how Petrograd and Stalingrad would finish each other off: what if terrorists, Islamist or otherwise, grab a hold of some of these nukes?

    Extract from ‘The Bells of Vladivostok’ by Anya Desmond

    Aksyuchits’s creation of the ‘Far Eastern Republic’ (FER) immediately got off to a terrible start. The main problem was the Pacific Fleet, which he’d hoped to win over, including the nuclear arsenal that he felt was sure to keep his dream of a Christian Russian state afloat. Instead, he was shocked to meet the new leaders of the Pacific Fleet. After the Baltic division had sided with Gaidar, the NSF had taken great pains to staff the ships with only the most complaint people they could get their hands on. As a result, Admiral German Ugryumov and the remaining commanders in the nearby port of Fokino agreed to submit to Aksyuchits’s command. However, at the same time, Ugryumov [2] let it be known in a skin-crawling fashion that they would be open to bribes. Aksyuchits refused both on moral principles and the fact his fledgling republic had nothing with which to bribe them. He had no support from the outside, as his former membership of the NSF had made him political poison in the West. He had only minor support from locals, but that was only given that they hated Moscow and not that they liked him. The fleet commanders laughed at the idea they would listen to, as Ugryumov described Aksyuchits to his face as, “A cuckolded runt of the litter like you.” There were no other nuclear weapons in Aksyuchits’s possession at the time, though there were bases just outside the borders of his province that he thought might be his best bet. Unfortunately for Aksyuchits, he would not have the time to send out an expedition to take them.

    Just to their south, in the lands of the modern Mordor of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il reigned like a hedonistic God over a country that had seen nearly 10% of its population starve to death. In the hermetically sealed hellhole the ruling elite had created, the North Korean citizen was perhaps the most tred upon human on the planet. Kim had only just taken the throne after the recent death of his father, crushing dissent in a way even Kim Il-Sung would have found excessive. While any full-blown war against South Korea was obvious suicide, Kim was attracted by the prospect of seizing real estate in a glorious war along the Pacific Coast. He felt that the distance from the Urals would serve to minimize the blowback of an invasion since he felt the FER was nothing but a rabble that would collapse the moment a gust of wind would blow against it. Russian nukes would have risked hitting China and that would have been suicide. Plus, Kim would officially announce that he was taking the land only to return it to Anpilov once he had smashed the Nevzorov government out west … perhaps minus Noktundo. But of course, that wasn’t the main purpose of the invasion either. The main goal of the invasion was to do what the FER had not yet done - seize nuclear weapons. Kim felt the only 100% guarantee against American intervention in North Korea was to become a nuclear state. He dreamed of plucking nuclear weapons from their silos to put them in North Korea. Ironically, there was a good chance a well-placed bribe could have convinced the Pacific Fleet to hand over their nuclear submarines, but the option was not explored by Kim because he wanted to be able to show off the terror of his army at the same time. History can only wonder what would happen if North Korea had successfully stolen nuclear weapons. We don’t have to wonder what their invasion would look like.

    On February 12th 1995, North Korea invaded the FER with nearly 200,000 of its best troops. In so doing, they had violated a taboo that nations had been strenuously observing since the war began: do not send your own troops in for fear of nuclear escalation. China was utterly livid with North Korea but knew it was too late now and hoped that they would fail in their search after the inevitable fall of the doomed Christian Republic. Similar shock echoed around the West, but particularly in Japan and South Korea. North Korea had threatened its southern neighbor with making Seoul as ‘flat as a pancake’ if they tried to help the Christian Republic. Kraskino, Andreevka, Slavyanka, and on the North Koreans marched. As expected they were as ruthless as any army on Earth, burning Orthodox churches, shelling hospitals and confiscating what little was left from their captive populations in the face of inevitable starvation - of course, even the North Korean soldiers were starving to amidst the unprecedented famine they found themselves in. The North Koreans marched north with only disorganised response. But the greatest heartbreak for the defenders would come on February 22nd, as the Pacific Fleet commanders told Aksyuchits that he was doomed and that there was no point dying for a doomed man in a doomed rebellion against the country they swore loyalty to, especially when they could receive no payment in return. And of course, North Korea was only coming for keepsakes until Anpilov returned, so Ugryumov told him the commanders were doing him a favour by not just joining Kim. They went to their ships preparing to move to the other bases in Kamchatka to try and sell themselves to the highest bidder, denying mothers pleading to put their children on the ships to save them - although at least three of the commanders’ favourite prostitutes ended up escaping the seemingly inevitable fall of Vladivostok as well. That evening, Ugryumov and the ships of the Pacific Fleet sailed out into the Sea of Japan, as the North Koreans could make out Vladivostok in the distance.

    According to legend, Aksyuchits collapsed to his knees on the shore in tears as the ships swarmed away to leave the city to their fate. Blaming himself for the calamity, he muttered the words, “All is now against us.” And then, behind him he could hear the words, “Not me,” in a voice that he recognized. Then when he turned around, there was no one there. Whether this is true or not, few can doubt the significance of the Battle of Vladivostok, whose battle, to misquote Edward Gibbon, presented many great and heroic characters such as sometimes arise in a degenerate age to vindicate the honour of the human species.

    [1] IOTL, his father was a victim of the great purge. He was also the one who reorganized Russia's forces in the first Chechen War that allowed them to take Grozny after the first disasterous attempt when Grachev sent the troops in while barely conscious from drunkenness at his birthday party. Angry from the incompetence and cruelty of the military officers, he refused to accept medals for his service and said the Chechen war was devoid of honour. He would go into politics as a Pro-Yeltsin candidate, before resigning in disgust at Yeltsin. Yeltsin retaliated by cooperating with the Communists to strip him of his parliamentary positions. He was almost certainly murdered by the KGB in 1998, who framed it on his wife (this was essentially confirmed by Alexander Livinenko).

    [2] IOTL, was likely complicit in the Moscow Apartment Bombings.
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    ‘The King of All’
  • ‘The King of All’

    Extract from ‘The Bells of Vladivostok’ by Anya Desmond

    The thunder of North Korean artillery in the distance, the sight of the Pacific Fleet abandoning their people to die, the certainty that no one was coming to help them. Two hundred thousand strong members of the vicious North Korean army marched upon a town barely concealing a mere 50,000 troops and another 100,000 hastily assembled volunteers of all ages. Viktor Aksyuchits had brought this state to life only a few months ago and it seemed certain to be smothered in its cradle. He had no navy, no air force, only a few hastily scrambled divisions and militias. Some of the volunteers and conscripts were so old that they had last fought in the Great Patriotic War. With everything they could grab onto, they prepared to face the advancing armies of North Korea. What few survivors who had escaped north relayed stories of an army devoid of any of the rules and ethics of civilization. Though they were few, the North Korean Air Force had begun their bombing runs on the city almost as soon as the navy had left. The only way they were ‘discriminate’ was in how they seemed to aim specifically in the civilian areas. North Korea publicly mocked UN calls to refrain from attacks and to let civilians and children flee the city, as they wanted to get the operation done as quickly as possible to try and find nuclear weapons afterward.

    The population had picked up rifles but they felt certain they were doomed to die. Anguish was carved into every face and heart along the city, devoid of places to run or hide. While everyone cursed Ugryumov and his fleet, many cursed Aksyuchits too, saying that the navy would have been loyal if he hadn’t declared independence to fulfil his deluded dream of a modern Christian state. Though they had resolved to fight, it was almost a formality. They had accepted their deaths, the deaths of their family and the destruction of their homes. Many took to drinking in what they assumed would be their last moments on Earth, some giving their children cyanide in case the North Koreans ever found them.

    Ironically the most enthused people were the last ones expected in such a zone. A small IDF unit had landed in Vladivostok a few days earlier to get the last few Jews out of the city. While the Jewish women and children boarded, the Jewish men (many from the abolished Jewish Autonomous Zone) refused, saying they would not be men if they let their fellow citizens perish like this while they ran away. While the IDF tried to convince the residents, after a few hours of negotiations, the residents actually convinced the IDF to stay around. Thus, a handful of IDF soldiers had set up camp while the women and children were safely flown to Japan, the men promising they would leave when the city either fell or was saved. When asked later why he decided to stay in Vladivostok to fight during the battle, one IDF commander said ‘They had the only flag in the world with a Jew on it’. At the same time, a private plane from South Korea carrying members of the Unification Church would arrive in the city after narrowly avoiding being shot down, pledging with weapons they had brought along to help defend the Christian Republic against the invaders. One of the members had actually been one of the ‘Roof Koreans’ during the LA Riots of 1992, subsequently recalling that the LA Riots were ‘a lullaby’ compared to Vladivostok. Rounding up the motley crew were members of the Greater Japan Patriotic Party (大日本愛国党), who had likewise flown into Vladivostok with other Japanese ultranationalists in the hope of killing Communists, particularly Korean ones. Of course, a lot of the anger had stemmed from North Korea’s kidnapping and torture of Japanese citizens sometimes plucked from beaches to be trapped their whole lives in the Hermit Prison. In Japan, the reaction to the news of the Ultranationalists fighting the North Koreans was, at worst, happiness that both would surely shoot the other - some would receive limited political success in coming years. But of course, all these groups together could not realistically stop the weight of mechanised death rolling towards the city. Though they were certain they were doing the right thing (for different reasons), that was no guarantee or even an argument for their success.

    It was in these circumstances, perhaps the most unenviable in the history of nations, that Aksyuchits found himself. The country had no love for him, the country was soon to perish and those in the country were about to perish alongside it. Aksyuchits had only one strategy: hold on. Hold on long enough for someone to save the city. It didn’t matter who, where or why, only as long as they could repel the North Koreans from their city to save them. Aksyuchits therefore tailored his message, making an explicit call to Christians the world over, hoping against hope that it would raise voices in Washington and Europe to take pity on the dying city. As artillery and planes began to savage the city on February 23rd 1995, Aksyuchits would give the most important speech he ever gave in his life.

    Extract from Viktor Aksyuchits’ ‘When you See Him’ Speech

    “Brothers in Christ, the Satanic armies of North Korea are upon us. The barbarians are at the gate, there is nowhere we can run to. And most heartbreakingly of all, we are alone. Alone to face these monsters by ourselves. If we fall here, the forces of that abomination of a state will squat in your homes with your family’s corpses on the floor. They will burn the churches your ancestors were baptised in. They will defile and use your wives and mothers, and they will enslave your little children. We are facing an army devoid of mercy, kindness or humanity. We are at our lowest point, our humblest point. There is no deeper crevice of hell and agony we can sink into. And it is in this moment, that the decisions we make on this day will change the destiny of the world forever.

    “I am not Admiral Ugryumov - I will not abandon you to foreign subjugation. Until the forces of darkness and evil have been cast from Vladivostok, I will not leave this city. I won’t leave this city because I know you. I know the people of this city. I know the hardship they can endure, the freedom they love, the families they will fight for. I know the courage that lies dormant in their hearts, ready to explode in flaming passion in service of civilization. I know that if this city can fight with the courage of their ancestors, who overcame the elements of nature to conquer the leviathan of Siberia to make their way to the Pacific, that no North Korean army will even be able to put a dent in it. The destiny of our country is not in their hands, but ours. We will decide if we win or lose this battle, not that demon in Pyongyang!

    “And if we all shall fall together in the defence of our God, like the heroes of Constantinople before, be not afraid. Imagine what you will do when you see Him. When you pass off from earthly life and enter his kingdom, when you see Him for the first time. What will you do when you first see your creator, your saviour, who died that the world could be saved? The One who would go through all the sufferings and agonies of the cross again, even if you were the only person on this Earth? Will you fall to your knees in wonder? Will you stand with reverence and awe? Will you run to His arms, and weep in his embrace, to feel a love that will never go cold, that will never falter, that will never fail?

    “This is the worst that can happen - to reunite with the being that loves you more than words can describe. And if you win, then after a long life basked glory, the receiver of unchristian envy from Russians the world over, in your old age and from your bed you will be taken by angels to the Halls of Heaven. And there, you will break bread with the defenders of our faith from all the ages: King Jan of Poland and his 20,000 Hussars, Richard the Lionheart of England and the Knights Templar, even Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir the Great ready to embrace their descendents as their equals in valour. And then at the end of the table, will be Him. Always ready to greet you, to embrace you, and who will love you whether you prevail on the parapets of Vladivostok or not. All He asks you is that as he died for you, that you fight for Him, and that is what we will do. We will fight for our God, our children, and our civilisation!

    “Every dawn, we shall ring the Bells of Vladivostok. As long as those bells ring, the city has not fallen! As long as those bells ring, God has not abandoned you! As long as those bells ring, you must not abandon hope! Our God did not come to bring peace but a sword! And we shall cast out those Satanists from out city like Christ cast out the money lenders from his temple!

    “To the Christians of the world, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, raise your voice in prayer to the God of Abraham and Moses! Pray that the brothers and sisters of your faith can prevail against the forces of Satan, if only for the sake of our children. And if there is anything more than prayer that you can do, your brothers in Christ plead of you to provide it. And to all the women and children of this city, pray. Pray for your husbands, your fathers, your brothers, and especially your children. Because if thousands, or millions, or more children of God join their voices in prayer, surely, surely a miracle will happen!”

    Extract from ‘The Hermit Emperor: The Rise and Fall of Kim Jong-Il’ by John Miles

    Similarly to Stalin’s mockery of the Pope, Kim mocked Aksyuchits’s calls for prayer, considering it an admission of defeat. What he could never have guessed was how Aksyuchits’s speech turned the gloom that pervaded Vladivostok into the most explosive roar of defiance seen since London fought Hitler. Vladivostok had, like most cities in Russia, been of a relatively secular nature. There was nothing particularly special about it in the Orthodox lore, but in that narrow window of history its citizens found a special mission. As the fear of death and destruction of all they loved had suspended their old ways, the words of Aksyuchits and his Party had given them a sense of destiny and purpose. It wasn’t just for fear of imminent nonexistence, but the sense of finding unity with an entire millenia of Russian history. As one veteran recalled, ‘I could almost see Saint Vladimir and all the saints of Russia in the heavens, and suddenly I knew it wasn’t we who were outnumbered’. A serene peace had rested over the souls of Vladivostok, as they prepared to meet their creator in heaven with clear conscious, while the rest of the world’s began to muddy.

    The first assault on Vladivostok fell on February 25th, as North Korean troops began to march into Trudovye, just north of the city as they turned around the bay. They were told that the Russian population would ‘by their natural submissiveness to superior strength’, surrender without a fight, encouraged by the Pacific Fleet abandoning the population to their fate. Instead, the first regiment sent into Vladivostok was utterly torn to pieces, forced to make a hasty retreat. Molotov cocktails were thrown from every window and manhole, turning North Korea’s decaying tanks to lines of flaming husks. It would later be discovered that a few T34s likely from the Korean War itself were among the carcasses, the last confirmed use of the T34 tank in combat. The North Koreans responded with all that the Soviet had taught them - merciless firepower. There were hopes that with the sight of such overwhelming resistance, the citizens of the young country would surely break. But instead, they had been reborn with a spirit of chivalry that the world had not seen since the ancients. A legend was being born before the worlds’ eyes, a Thermopylae of the modern era. The CIA’s estimate was that the city would fall in two days. After two days, it was North Korea forced to stop and try to recalibrate their attack.

    All the while, given the geography, northward reinforcements were shelled from Vladivostok as they tried to move in to reinforce their troops. Already, the North Korean supply lines began to stretch, a given that the northern border was so inhospitable. It was believed they would quickly take Vladivostok and use the port, but they were quickly disabused of this notion as the port fired at any North Korean ship they could lay their eyes on. The hunger that was destroying North Korea was now just as manifest in their own troops. Infamously, one FER veteran recalled, “I remember shooting at one of the Communists from the windows while he was with his comrade. I moved to a different position and could see his buddy looking around for where the shot came from but his eyes started to turn to his dead friend on the ground. Finally, nervous and sweating, he dropped to the ground and began to eat from his friend’s corpse like an animal. He didn’t even care about being shot - he was just so mad with hunger. I was too horrified to shoot at him, so I watched him sate himself with the flesh and blood of the man that minutes ago he called ‘comrade’.”

    The resistance had given the citizens of the FER time to disseminate their message across the world. Even they could hardly believe the levels their plea had reached. Aksyuchits’s speech had been replayed on America’s Christian Broadcasting Network TV station and had captured the hearts and minds of the Bible Belt. Aksyuchits’s history in the NSF was brushed aside as ‘Saul before he became Paul’, and the luminaries of Evangelical Christianity came rushing to his support. Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and many more called upon all politicians in Washinton to help Aksyuchits and the Far Eastern Republic survive the North Korean attack. This put the Clinton Administration in a gigantic muddle because they did not want to abandon Gaidar and endorse the independence of not only a piece of Russia but one that wasn’t even an ethnic republic that one could construct a right of secession for. Furthermore, it was right on China’s doorstep, and no one wanted to anger China when their help on dealing with rogue nuclear weapons was beyond needed. Others continued the praise from abroad, with Lech Wałęsa calling Aksyuchits ‘The best hope of the Russians as a nation’. But most famously was Pope John Paul II, who would announce his prayers for Vladivostok and called upon ‘All Christians and all other believers in the religions of the world’, to save the city from its doom. In South Korea, members of the Unification Church clashed with the police, with founder Sun Myung Moon calling for President Kim Young-sam (himself a Christian) to send the air force and navy to relieve the city. Aksyuchits became a household name in Iquitos in the middle of Amazon Peru to East Timor, a hero (deserving or not) of all Christian denominations.

    Despite the roused feelings of the world, it did little but draw eyes to watch a city that was slowly being murdered. Almost as indifferent to his own soldiers’ lives as those of his citizens’, Kim diverted his planes to bomb to strike the most sadistic of targets, with some 90% of Vladivostok’s primary/elementary schools being directly and repeatedly hit, which only slowed the advance of his own troops down. But quantity indeed had a quality of its own, and slowly the North Koreans crawled through the city at a sure but agonizing pace, building after building being reduced to rubble. Yet still, through all this, from speakers littered throughout the city, the recordings of bells would greet the defenders every morning. Like the march of time itself, a wave of disintegration would slowly roll towards the city centre, despite the valiance of the defenders. One FER veteran recalled seeing, “One of our guys with both his legs blown to pieces, his right arm mangled at his side. He weaky asked me for the pistol just out of his left arm’s reach. I gave it to him, thinking he’d finish himself and spare being captured by the Norks. Instead, with a trembling that said this wasn’t his shooting hand, he raised his trembling pistol and got ready to shoot at the advancing Koreans. I came back an hour later after we’d pushed them back a little and went back to that room. I saw three Norks on the floor, the man I helped dead, and three cartridges laying beside him on the ground.”


    Kim’s relentlessness could not be stopped. He had been humiliated by the time it was taking to seize the city and was certain that the Americans and the South would launch an attack on him if his armies looked weak enough in Vladivostok. By the beginning of April, the North Koreans had entered the city proper, with the defenders increasingly left with nowhere to go. Aksyuchits had traditionally be reluctant to allow women soldiers but now the demand was too high, as women were certain of horrendous fates if handed over to Kim’s armies. Almost every building was damaged in the city, with urban warfare not seen since the Second World War making every street bloodier than the last. Still outraged by how the citizens of Vladivostok fought back, Kim devised another strategy with which to hurt the morale of the defenders. Kim declared that by Easter Day on April 17th - this was in fact the Catholic Easter, the Orthodox Easter was April 23rd but no one was going to even begin to correct Kim given his mood - that they would seize a certain territory in the centre of the city to ‘break morale’.

    This was no ordinary location. It was the remains of the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Mother of God, built at the turn of the century and destroyed by explosion in the 1930s by Stalin. A statue of Lenin was built on its remains like the Romans would do to announce their superiority of their Gods over others. The Lenin statue was gone but nothing yet stood in its place. Aksyuchits had declared they would rebuild it but obviously there was no time. The North Koreans sent out a press release declaring they would build a statue of Kim Jong-Il in it’s place, ‘The Saviour of Vladivostok’. To that end, North Korea’s already horrific casualty figures, which were well into the thousands every day, somehow degraded even more, in service of a propaganda victory everyone had been too scared to tell the Dear Leader was madness. He had almost forgot about the attempt to find nuclear weapons, now obsessed with destroying the city that humiliated him. To that end, he brought out his worst weapons yet - mustard gas, nerve agents, and sarin. This would be the first use of WMDs in the Second Russian Civil War, but certainly not the last.

    Kim refused to provide his own troops the suitable clothing to protect them for fear that it would tip the defenders off that something would happen. On April 10th, the North Korean air force dropped their toxic brew down on the city, mostly but not entirely on the defenders. The international outrage was deafening, with North Korea officially expelled from the United Nations as a result (with Chinese abstention), and the US and ROK armies but on regional DEFCON 1. Almost all countries that weren’t China placed a trade embargo on the country and cancelled all humanitarian aid, somehow further worsening the famine in the country, which was significantly worse than even Russia. But it did indeed break the front open, with North Korean troops pouring into the city centre with the last of their reserves. On the morning of April 12th, the Russians were only a single block away from the church’s remains. They sent their planes into the sky for what they hoped would be one last bombing run. But as the planes flew north to deliver what many thought would be the final hammer blow, they were stunned to see approaching missiles on their radars. Caught flatfooted, the entire advancing squadron was anihilated in the air, their flaming wrecks plummeting into the Pacific waters. Defender and attacker alike turned their gaze east. With the rising sun behind them, they came like a divine visitation. The attackers trembled, the defenders wept with joy, for they had been saved. Inside the Valley of the Shadow of Death, they feared no evil, because the Pacific Fleet had returned.

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    The abandonment of Vladivostok was considered such a disgraceful act that even the Anpilov regime (ostensibly friendly to Kim’s ‘brotherly’ intervention) would condemn Ugryumov for ‘failing to negotiate the city’s surrender’. Nevzorov used it as proof the Communists sold out Russia, and Lebed called it ‘The most shameful act in the history of the Russian armed forces’. Ugryumov, one of the most hack appointees in the competitive history of Russian corruption, likely cared more about next day’s breakfast than cared about what any of these people thought, beyond the potential of losing buyers. But unlike him, his sailors had higher values in their hearts than money. On April 7th, 1995, the crew of the Slava-Class Varyag (flagship of the Pacific Fleet) while just off the shore of their Kamchatka base held a vote and concluded that they wanted to return to Vladivostok to save the city. Outraged at this insubordination, Ugryumov struck one of the sailors in the face, expecting, as was tradition in the armed forces, that such a move would make him crumple and submit. Instead, he was mortified that the sailor, the lowest rank on the ship, looked back at him, as one witness said, ‘With eyes that said not even God himself could intimidate this man’. Ugryumov was restrained before he could reach his pistol, calling out to the commisars who would not help him because they were Nevzorov-sympathisers who wanted North Korea to lose more than anything on Earth. Ugryumov continued to fight until he was thrown overboard into the Pacific headfirst. Escalatingly absurd numbers have been given for the amount of men needed to lift Ugryumov up to throw him overboard, but it seems that whether through cold shock or landing on his neck, the fall alone was enough to kill him. The mutineers took over the ship, calling upon all other sailors to do the same. Given that all the sailors were in the same mind about it, most commanders quickly complied in fear, with resistors thrown overboard to be devoured by the fishes of the Pacific. With minimal resistance, the sailors of the Pacific Fleet roared their ships back to life and charged into the Pacific to save the city.

    While rushing to save Vladivostok, the sailors got in contact with the Japanese and Americans, telling them the situation and asking the Americans and Japanese to explain the situation in the city to them. They pleaded with the West to keep quiet about their arrival so as to catch the North Koreans with their trousers around their ankles, even at the cost of falling hope among the defenders. But their thunderous arrival on April 12th could have given September 12th 1683 and all the Winged Hussars a run for their money. First they took out North Korea’s latest chemical weapon attack by blasting their planes out of the sky. Russian warships may have lacked the aircraft capabilities of the Western navies, but they had more than enough firepower to make up for the deficit. Swinging into the bay, the ships shredded North Korea’s already decrepit supply line to pieces. Up and down the coast, the Varyag’s shells ravaged every truck and depot that moved. The Americans had given them all the intel they could get on the critical locations of North Korea’s supply line, taking each spot out with methodical accuracy. Within hours of their arrival, they had changed the tide of history.

    With understandable outrage, Kim ordered the entire Sea of Japan segment of the North Korean navy to rush to Vladivostok to ‘blast them from the Pacific like the Japanese did at Tsushima’. Indeed, the resulting battle was quite like Tsushima, but not in the way Kim wanted. The Battle of Peter the Great Gulf on April 15th was a biblical slaughter, with the entire active North Korean navy on their northern coast reduced to one torpedo boat and one submarine due to a combination of Russian firepower and American/Japanese/Korean reconnaissance information. In the city itself, the defenders now found themselves, only moments before extinction, barely facing resistance as they walked back north through the charred remains of the city. The North Koreans had retreated so chaotically that they hadn’t even left the multitude of booby traps that Kim wanted left behind to hopefully kill as many of the survivors as possible. The ‘Jesus-Face’ Flag was raised over the suburbs again on April 21st, Good Friday on the Orthodox Calendar in 1995. This concluded the Battle of Vladivostok, and the only major battle with relation to the Korean intervention into the Second Russian Civil War. The reason was the same reason America and South Korea had not started shooting the moment Kim started using chemical weapons.

    On May 1st, 1995, bombs began to fall on Pyongyang. Kim was stunned and demanded an immediate counterbattery on Seoul, to which he was told to his horror that the planes were not coming from the south, but the north: China had had enough. They had enough of trying to deal with Kim, had enough of taking the fall for him on the international stage, and had enough of his idiocy costing the PRC a zone of influence along its border. The Politburo hated Kim more than Washington, Seoul or even Vladivostok put together. Taking Sinuiju on the same day, the Chinese began to push south towards Pyongyang. Officers old enough to remember the Great Leap Forward recalled seeing a level of famine that horrified even them. One veteran would recall, “I remember seeing an old, bearded man crouching at the side of the road, capable of seeing and counting every single one of his ribcage, holding and eating the headless body of a child identically to the painting of Saturn devouring his child. He turned to look at us without any shame as to what he was doing, as if it was accepted practice in that hellhole of a country.” Those old enough to remember the madness of the Cultural Revolution were mortified by the level of indoctrination some of the locals believed. One captured girl fearing that Kim was literally capable of reading her mind even in Chinese captivity in the same way as a literal God. Veterans of the Tiananmen Square Massacre felt no brotherhood, be it racial, ideological or whatever to this almost alien country. While resistance was utterly fanatical, and regularly involving child soldiers with the youngest being recorded as six years old, China would have no problem mopping up what little elements of the North Korean army still existed. On June 6th, they were at the gates of Pyongyang.

    Ultimately, though Kim would call for a ‘Battle that will shake the foundations of the world’, his ultimate fate was to be unceremoniously riddled by machine gun fire on June 9th 1995 in a palace coup led by Jang Song-Thaek, his brother-in-law. Jang was Pro-China and knew Kim’s policies were cataclysmic for an already devastated North Korea. He had welcomed a Chinese invasion, knowing that the entire elite was doomed to be hanged from lampposts in the event of a US/ROK invasion. With Kim gone, Chinese troops moved throughout the city unhindered, replacing the DPRK’s own troops along the DMZ on June 20th. With that, the diabolical reign of Kim Jong Il came to its sordid end, though a handful of terror attacks against Chinese troops would continue in the coming years. Though North Korea would remain a dictatorship, it would be saved from the cult of personality that had ultimately destroyed itself, albeit now one entirely subservient to China as East Germany was to Moscow in the Cold War.

    But in Vladivostok, despite the appalling casualties received by the defenders, there was jubilation. Almost entirely by Russian hand, the city had saved itself from occupation at the hands of a ruthless foreign invader. To this day, in the country’s textbooks, you will not read about ‘The Battle of Vladivostok’ but ‘The Miracle of Vladivostok’. The battle has taken on a similar significance to elements of Christianity as the Siege of Szigetvár in 1566, the Battle of Vienna in 1683 or the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. After China’s intervention in the short-lived Sino-Korean War, the threat from the south would vanish and the new state had forged its own identity, lore and purpose. To a large extent, they had developed an identity separate from Russia as a whole, solidifying the division of the old country. Despite the economic challenges, the need to begin the northward expansion and the still ever-present danger of thermonuclear exchange due to events west of the Urals, the country looked forward to these challenges as one, united people. A people that had discovered as part of their identity a focus on religiosity that made them unique among nations. It was the beginning of the ‘Israel on the Pacific’ ideal with an emphasis on the religious over the ethnic, a land where the Orthodox people would always have a home.

    As one final act of contrition after their victory, Aksyuchits would not only announce the immediate reconstruction of the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Mother of God, but also announce that the young state would change its name. It would now be the ‘Far Eastern Kingdom’, but not because they were bringing back the Tsar, or that he was making himself a king, indeed all the daily offices of state would remain essentially democratic. However, Aksyuchits announced that the ‘Eternal King’ of this young country would be the ‘King of All’ himself. The saviour of Vladivostok, and the saviour of the world, Jesus Christ.
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  • This is not like the previous chapter. Please do not read this if you are having a bad day. If you have questions I'll be slightly later than usual as I need to take a minor break due to how depressing the research for this has been - it's nothing serious but it's not good to be constantly reading about this topic, specifically in this chapter's case about what the Republika Srpska army did in Bosnia and the Interahamwe did in Rwanda.



    Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi

    Manga artist Kentaro Miura when asked about the inspiration for some of his most ghoulish scenery from his magnum opus ‘Berserk’ would cite the images and stories from the Russian Civil War. The ‘inspiring’ imagery would indeed be of perhaps the most horrific nature of any conflict in modern history. While Rwanda was certainly replete with atrocity, the fact that Russia was seen as a relatively developed and civilised country, of Tchaikovsky and Tolstoy, made the destruction of the centrepiece of Orthodox Civilisation and knowledge that it’s children committed it as horrifying as the land of Beethoven and Goethe creating Auschwitz. While something of a romantic narrative would emerge in the form of the FER/K, nothing could be less romantic about the situation west of the Urals. While the FEK had its ‘Jesus-face’ flag, Lebed had his ‘tiger’ flag borrowed from Siberian independence supporters, and the Kaliningrad government held the traditional tricolour while the Nevzorov government maintained the imperial tricolour, the Stalingrad government was nothing less than the old Red Flag.

    Following their amnesty by the NSF in 1994, those who had staged the August 1991 Coup attempt had finally returned to government under Anpilov as the Right Bloc of the NSF did not want to dilute their power. Vladimir Kryuchkov (a Stalingrad native) returned to his former role as head of the rechristened KGB, with Viktor Alksnis transferred into becoming the head of Army Group North against the Petrograd government. Marshall Dmitry Yazov, tried in absentia for the massacre of protestors in Lithuania in 1991, was appointed head of Army Group East to battle the Uralic Alliance. Anatoly Kulikov (already infamous for presiding over the Samashki and Vedono massacres) would ultimately complete Soviet Russia’s military line up, by leading Army Group South in the Caucasus, but Yazov’s appointment had its own blowback. The blowback was that General Igor Rodionov sided with Petrograd, as he had a personal vendetta against Yazov for forcing him to take the fall for the massacre of protestors in Tblisi in 1991 - his experience would be badly needed by Petrograd who were mainly relying on paramilitary leaders to shore up their initial forces. Gennady Yanayev, however, would not find as easy a fate as his co-conspirators, as his becoming acting President during the 1991 Coup made Anpilov paranoid of attempts to seize power. As a result, the KGB discreetly murdered him in June 1995, despite sincere loyalty. Valentin Pavlov would flee north to Petrograd, knowing his involvement with the private sector would make him a target in the south, lending his voice to Petrograd to save his life given he was certain to receive jail if he fled abroad.

    The Stalingrad government was generally expected to crush the Petrograd government easily, given that it had the larger forces, more nukes, the Black Sea Fleet, the very nominal endorsement of the NSF east of the Urals, more foreign support and a more experienced collection of generals and political leaders. Despite that, many problems remained, notably the fact they were entombed on three sides by advancing forces. The Circassians were marching to the Black Sea, the Bashkirs had surrounded Orenburg and Petrograd had seized the lion’s share of Moscow. While they technically received foreign support, the most they received were a trickle of volunteers from Ukraine (often fleeing arrest by Ukrainian authorities for being NSF supporters) or occasional shipments over the Caspian from Iran. But the biggest problem by far was Anpilov, who not only sought to create a cult of personality around himself but to rebuild one around Stalin. As they were headquartered in the recently renamed Stalingrad, Stalin’s face appeared lovingly in public for the first time since the 1950s. The KGB was empowered in ways Kryuchkov could only have dreamed of during the Gorbachev era, as those who thought they were allowed a private joke at the regime’s expense as in olden days were quickly removed of the notion at their impromptu execution sites. An atmosphere of terror unseen since the late 1930s pervaded the city - it was estimated that by the end of the conflict, almost one half of politicians in Stalingrad had been shot by their own side, each replacement more sycophantic than the last.

    The two main follies of the regime would strike all communities with similar harshness, the first being Anpilov’s economic policy. Regarding the 1930s industrialisation as a necessary blood sacrifice for prosperity, Anpilov returned to economic Stalinism as the effective solution to the crisis of production, in particular grain acquisition to feed the troops. It should be noted this virtually ignored the lessons of the First Civil War, with the return of War Communism and the squelching of the last final businesses mad enough to still exist. The entirely inevitable result would be famines on par with the worst of the anarchy in Siberia, and even Kim’s North Korea. Refugees would primarily use Ukraine and Kazakhstan as their point of departure, fueling much to the region’s tensions, being sent practically on top of the shoulders of the overwhelmed Kaliningrad population. This was exacerbated by the second issue, conscription. The Reds had taken to forced conscription of entire villages, cleared out of their male populations to join the army. Sometimes they forcibly conscripted pensioners, sometimes they forcibly conscripted children, with some mothers begged the army to accept their prepubescent boys to join the army as there was a better chance they would survive the famine. Child soldiers were a frequent war crime in the Soviet Russian regime, often used to meet conscription quotas as the recruiters knew they would be against a firing squad if they didn’t meet the quota. But naturally, this created problems of supply, with many of the villages perishing in the winter as their male population was stolen. While all were equally worthless in Soviet Russia, it seems some were more worthless than others. Ethnic minorities that were conscripted, instead of being sent north where they would have some level of motivation, were often stuck fighting their own ethnic group in the Urals and Caucasus, further sinking motivation. Jews were perhaps the most shat upon group in the whole Red Army, forcibly conscripted into units that invariably considered them born-turncoats. Jews that had stayed in Russia were typically amongst the most loyal and patriotic, but no Jew escaped the serial torture that followed them around the encampments, demoted to figurative (and even sometimes literal) footstools beneath even the lowliest private, a communal punching bag that still failed to stop the violence the units committed against each other.

    The best demonstration of this came in the Battle of Orenburg in early January. The Tatar and Bashkir troops were outnumbered, despite being the ones on the attack, but the Communist forces themselves were a barely coherent rabble often conscripted into units without even ammunition or sometimes even weapons. Some had their girlfriend’s tampons hanging from their wounds since bandages weren’t around. Others were caught trying to shoot while the safety was still on, and often committed friendly fire on accident, and sometimes on purpose to find a space to flee and surrender. Anpilov reiterated the ‘Not One Step Back’ order and began to create a network of commissars to enforce his ever more ruthless orders. Many of the commissars ended up being directly from the criminal class and would use their power to rob and abuse the soldiers under their command. On February 15th, Orenburg (the unofficial ‘Asiatic capital’ of Russia) completely fell to Uralic forces, opening up a railway link into the Uralic breakaway republics that further relieved pressure on them but further cemented the division along the Urals. Still, the Anpilov government refused to recognise the breakaway states, forcing the Uralic Alliance to set their sights further still. They concluded the time had come to march to the Volga and clear the eastern bank along the Kazakh border. But to do that, they had one significant city in the way: Samara.

    Extract from 'One Soldier’s War in Russia' by Arkady Babchenko

    The ten of us are stuck in the basement of the apartment in the south side of Moscow. We hadn’t even met each other until ten minutes ago, all of us having only been conscripted into the Red Army at gunpoint a week ago, our training now somehow complete. The shells from the north side of the river are so loud that you’ve already accepted death as a certainty and a mercy. Like me, several have already had a tooth blasted from their mouth from the ritual army beatings that have only started. Where is our food coming from? Who knows. Ammo? Who knows. Water? Who knows. We look around as if trying to find weak links in the team to exploit. There is no friendship, no comradery, only hatred for everything and everyone in this rotten city we can’t escape from. The lieutenant we’re waiting on orders from is too drunk to retain consciousness, so we’re stuck here until further notice, slowly becoming experts in deducing how loud the incoming explosion is going to be based on the decibels of the shell whistle. At the bottom of the stairwell is the only certainty in the room, because we all know he is the first person we’d all kill at the first opportunity: the commissar, polishing his gun since its worth more to him than any of us. We hate him, he knows we hate him, and he does not hate us because he needn’t waste his time in hating us: we’ll all be dead soon anyway. Despite this, he seems to take enjoyment in the idea of ruling over us. Every KGB agent in this festering shithole seems to want to play with the conscripts like children play with dolls when the generals aren’t looking.

    We’re mostly relieved he doesn’t seem to be the not infrequent type of commissar who uses his power to rape some of the younger conscripts, or sometimes pimp them out to commanders for extra money. Many children were recruited specifically for this purpose - sometimes mothers even encourage it as a way for their boys to avoid the fighting and ensure food. Instead the person who is more likely to put a bullet in us than any of the Nashis is this miserable dwarf who walks with one arm lifeless like he’s had a stroke. For someone who will inevitably kill at least some of the people standing around me, including very likely me, the main aura that he exudes is not ruthlessness or cruelty, but astonishing averageness. He was the man who was six seats over from you in the cinema, the fifty-eighth man you walked past on the street on a busy Saturday, the one ahead of you in the line for the grocery store. He was visibly no one - a borderline artificial person. We will probably die to this bastion of complete averageness, whom we are more afraid of than the Nashis. This is what real death looks like - not screaming across a battlefield as the mines and shells explode around you, or hand to hand combat with the enemy, it’s getting shot in the back of the head at nine at night with one minute of preparation by a guy who has accomplished as little as you with a life as meaningless as you and who will die as meaninglessly as you. Five minutes after robbing everything you ever had and ever will, he will forget he even did it, and your family will not find even a hair of you to mourn over, if they survive either.

    Finally, as if he’s detected the fear and hatred against him, he raises a firm eye against all of us.

    “Your weapons will arrive shortly. You will join the counteroffensive to retake Moscow. The city will be liberated from the Fascists with the next week.”

    We wonder whether he thinks we’re stupid enough to believe him or if he’s trying to weed out those stupid enough to openly question him. We all say nothing, which only makes him more talkative.

    “Does everyone here speak Russian?”

    No one knows whether it’s safer to open their mouths or not. A few nod.

    “Then you’re Russians. Russians defending your homeland from foreign meddling and Fascist insurrection. You don’t have to believe in Comrade Anpilov to believe that. The fact is I don’t really believe in Communism myself. I can be honest with you as you can be honest with me. Don’t consider me the ‘Commissar’, just think of me as ‘Vladimir’.”

    We would laugh if we knew we wouldn’t be shot. He can be honest because he has the gun, because his word is more important than all ten of ours put together. If we had lived long enough to report what he said the only difference would be that our families would be included in the firing squad’s target practice.

    “I chose to support this government. Why? Because I’m a KGB man - once a KGB man, always a KGB man. You have your reasons too.”

    Of course we have our reasons. We’d be killed if we didn’t, perhaps killed if we do and in the case of the two Tatars in our group, will plead to be killed immediately if we fall into the hands of the Nashis.

    “Do you think you have it bad? Having to defend Moscow from Barkashov’s thugs? How do you think I feel, when I saw this country at its peak? When a Russian officer like me could fly to work in Dresden as easily as he could fly to his Black Sea Dacha? When the Americans, British and the French had to sit together just to equal us? Now seeing St. Basil’s being nothing more than a pile of rubble and memories, the Kremlin a smouldering hole in the ground? You were kids when the Union fell. You have no idea what the pain is of seeing the most glorious empire in the history of the world reduced to a shambling corpse at war with itself. An empire that was subverted and destroyed from within. And even if you get your legs blown off, your intestines pulled from your gut, or your brains leaking from your skull, all that pain will never hurt quite like knowing what we lost.”

    What makes someone say this? Even as teenagers we knew that life in the Soviet Union was garbage compared to the West. How could the adults think it was a good idea? Because he was in Germany? Because he was in the KGB and never had to stand eight hours in a line for bread? Because he never had to wait ten years for a car? Because he never saw Afghanistan veterans shooting up heroin in the alleys? Because he was allowed to go abroad when we couldn’t? I could look in his eyes. This wasn’t a man at war with himself. This wasn’t a man broken by nostalgia. He was the calmest person in the room, and the calmest person I met in my whole cursed week that consisted of my entire ‘training’ experience. He wasn’t in Moscow at all, but in Dresden. He was back at home, back when he was someone and not one of the anonymous taxi drivers of the Yeltsin years. Pointing a gun and ordering people around. And us sad fucks were going to be his dollset.

    Extract from ‘The Unstoppable Tragedy: The Second Russian Civil War’ by Peter Hodges

    The Circassian Revival was one of the more stage-managed productions of the entire conflict. The story was too good to be true, literally. The myth of a nation rising practically from the coffin to wreak vengeance on the descendents of their killers like a gypsy curse owed more to Sölƶa-Ġala (formerly Grozny) and Kyiv (formerly Kiev) than anyone else. For the Icherkerian Federation, Dudayev had already grown weary of Islamic influence in his country and wanted to create an ethnic ally rather than a religious one. The Ossetians, being Christians, made reluctant allies with Dudayev as a result. But it was Kyiv that ended up contributing perhaps more than any other group. The Crimean annexation had caused an explosion in nationalist groups, with many wanting to invade Crimea in the chaos of the Civil War, despite Anpilov saying that a Ukrainian invasion would be considered worthy of a nuclear strike. Many in the Ukrainian army warned that any attempt to seize the Crimea would be an utter disaster. President Lukianenko, still wanting to release the pressure valve of tension in his country that had exploded due to the number of Russian refugees, would consult with Ichkeria and found a solution both could arrive on. They agreed to send Ukrainian nationalist militias to fight alongside the ‘Circassians’ army, which in reality was already heavily augmented by Ossettians, Inguish and Chechens. To further reduce the culpability of Kyiv, it was agreed that many of the oligarchs would pay up front for the costs of the militias while getting recompensed on the backend in the form of generous state contracts, the most prolific likely being ‘The Chocolate Warlord’ Petro Poroshenko. While this was useful in getting some menacing people out of Ukraine, it also served another purpose, slightly more hair-brained. The hope was that the Circassian forces could break through to the Black Sea, then march northwards before ultimately stopping near Kerch. The hope was that the Russian side of the Kerch Strait could cut off Crimea - potentially liberating the land by means of starving out the defenders. Lukianenko insisted on the possibility despite the misgivings of Ukrainian militias.

    At the same time, the number of returning Circassians eager to pick up guns and defend their reborn nation was still significantly higher than expected. The Turks were by far the largest contingent, but others had flown from subsidised flights from as far away as Australia on only the most tangential ancestry claims. Unlike the Red Army, most of these troops would be trained behind the lines for months before they were sent to the front line, leaving the Caucasian natives and militias to do most of the fighting. It was in the South where Red Army troops would be at their most motivated, given that their opponents held both followers of Stepen Bandera and Dudayev, two figures of immense hatred among Russians in particular and not exclusively. On February 27th, ‘Circassian’ forces would reach the Black Sea and surround Sochi. Fearing intervention from the Black Sea Fleet, the Circassian armies instead spun southwards towards the small port of Adler near the Georgian/Abkhazian border, taking the mostly abandoned town without a struggle. This now opened a new way to bring in supplies, primarily from Turkey. This would also subtly mark the final end of the Soviet Caucasian borders, as the last Russian controlled territory that touched the Georgian/Azerbaijani borders was now gone. It is suggested that this event was a significant accelerator of the genocidal events that were already happening in Petrograd.

    The last piece of the Caucasian puzzle was Kalmykia, which was the only majority Buddhist area in Europe. Dudayev strongly supported ‘liberating’ the region whether it wanted to or not. But Dagestan would prove an issue. The power sharing between the ethnic groups and Islamists was causing conflict, as the Islamists refused anything to do with Kalmykia except conquest in the name of Islam. Dudayev had a lot of influence but almost none with the Islamists, including his own country’s. Shamil Baayev, one of the most sadistic of the Chechen commanders was rapidly growing a significant power base within the country and increasingly had the ear of the Khadyrov clan. He likewise was angered by Dudayev’s refusal to ‘reconquer’ everything up to Rostov, even going as far as to say that Ukraine was illegitimate because it was once under Islamic rule and consequently an ‘occupied’ part of the Islamic world. While Dudayev had been fooled into believing that the Dagestanis could be won over, the reality was that at a ground level the Islamists were already securing their positions. Dagestan’s porous borders had been thrown open wider than ever before, as Jihadis across the world made their home their in the name of crushing an atheist government murdering Muslims. One of those thousands of Jihadis moving to Dagestan would be the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.

    Extract from 'Ultimate Evil: Petrograd's Genocide' by Adrian Brown

    On January 3rd 1995, the entire adult male Caucasian and Central Asian population of Petrograd found themselves roused from their beds by the local police, army, and naturally Nashis and found themselves ordered to report to the centre of the city. That evening, as they all stood in the city centre, many sincerely believed they would be mowed down with machine guns right there, while optimists hoped they would be bartered like slaves to the West. Instead, a significantly worse fate than either was about to begin. They were told that due to fears of insubordination and dual allegiances, they would now be the initial members of the ‘Honorary Russian’ battalion. Their reward would be Russian citizenship if they could survive the war and the ‘National Republic of the Russians’ won, with citizenship immediately granted to their families if they should fall on duty. If they ran away or joined the enemy, their families would be considered state enemies and dealt with accordingly. Some were reportedly relieved, believing that they would ensure their families could live a safe life in Russia that many feared would be lost with the commencement of the Civil War. Few could conceive of what was going to happen.

    The purpose of the Honorary Russian Battalions were not to fight, but to be killed.

    The battalions would not be under army control, but Nashi control. They would not be given training, clothes, or even weapons, because that was not the purpose of the Honorary Russian Battalions. Their main task would be to walk over minefields, act as bait for Communist artillery to be shelled and reveal their positions and to be tortured for the amusement of Petrograd troops. The Nashis, the most avowedly racist part of the Petrograd government outside Barkashov’s exterminationist RNU, treated their forced conscripts in a way that one of the very few survivors described as ‘unprecedented in the history of the animal kingdom. We were not treated like dogs, because they are often treated lovingly. We were not treated like insects, because one can see an insect without wanting to crush it. We were not treated like rodents, because none actively seek to kill those that do not bother them. We were treated like how the demons would torture the damned in hell. We begged for hell. We begged for the hell of any religion over another moment of this agony. But suicide would only mean the death of your family and children. Those without either invariably killed themselves in the first few days. The worst pairings were the Azerbaijanis and Armenians, because the Nashis wanted to demonstrate their superiority over both of them. If they had an Armenian and Azerbaijani together they would force them to fellate or sodomize each other in front of the battalion as an act of public humiliation, invariably crying in shame while the Nashis laughed. It was as if to say, ‘you fought for all those years to see who was better, but now let us remind you that you are both worthless compared to us and all your wars between each other meant as much to us as a war between ants’. Because of how quickly the battalion was killed, we would literally stop off at villages and forcibly recruit every non-Slav and often the local prisons regardless of ethnicity. With the coming of the criminals, the camps became a nightly scene of murder for infringements no one could keep up with - no one stole because we were all certain we were going to die. The cruellest among us would even kill other members of the battalion to make it look like a suicide, ensuring the killing of their wives and children back home.”

    One of the dead from the Honorary Russian Battalion was Ruslan Khasbulatov, who just over a year before was the Chairman of Russia, who had stood tall to President Yeltsin in the struggle for Moscow. He died anonymously after stepping on a mine on February 17th 1995 near Smolensk. At the same time, some foreign volunteers actually became some of the overseers of the battalions, notably American Timothy McVeigh, who would infamously write in his diary, “I was at first a little confused at how these Caucasians were not white, but then I remembered they were like Jews, so they only looked like they were white.” Thus Russians who were born in Russia, spoke Russian, knew nothing but Russia, some of whom had served Russia, knew the songs of Russia, saw the extent of Russia, who breathed the Russian air and were born from Russian soil … were beaten, shot and tortured by people born outside of Russia, who couldn’t speak Russian, knew nothing of Russia, who hadn’t served Russia, knew not the songs of Russia, saw nothing of Russia, who neither breasted Russia’s air not was born from its soil … because the former was not ‘truly’ Russian. It was a system as monstrous as any that could be conceived.

    But unfortunately, the lives of the women and children were not much better. They had been shipped out of Petrograd and all the major cities into concentration camps in the cleared territories. When boys came of age (15) they would be sent to the Honorary Russian Battalions to be killed. The fate of the women was to suffer the same fate as the women of Bosnia, only on an industrial scale. The Petrograd government had an often contradictory view of race, but it seems that purebloods in particular were seen as the enemy while a mixed Slav-Caucasian/Central Asian person would be Russian if the influence of those communities perished and they were resettled in a Russian environment. While this meant no 100% extermination as in the Holocaust, it would lead to industrialised rape being used as a method of war. Women of child-bearing age in the camps were raped by multiple guards for the purpose of rearing ethnically Slavic children. Those who attempted to abort the resulting pregnancies were shot - some legitimate miscarriages resulted in the women being executed. Captured non-Slavic women were sent to these camps from miles around for these purposes. It is estimated that by the end of the war 100,000 women had been sent to the camps and were systematically raped. One survivor of the camps would recall, “You woke up in the morning to screams, you had your breakfast to screams, your lunch to screams, you screamed every time you were raped that day, and you tried to ignore the screams as you went to bed. Everyone screamed. There was not a single time you didn’t hear somebody scream.” Some victims desperately tried to get black eyes for no other reason than the vain hope they would get less attention. Perhaps the most horrifying thing done at some of the camps was to women who were caught trying to escape. Copying a technique from the Rwandan Genocide, camp commanders would often send the woman who tried to flee to be raped by an AIDS-infected prison inmate. The woman would then die in extreme agony over the coming weeks and months as she was similarly infected, perishing in the appalling conditions of the camps. The only good thing that came from such unimaginable atrocity was that the eventual convictions in connection to the Genocide Years would be the first in history to consider rape in a genocidal context. [2]

    The atrocities committed by Nationalist forces during the Second Russian Civil War are consequently generally considered the worst of any of the parties during the conflict, even before they reached their horrifying climax at the end of the war. It therefore shouldn’t have been a surprise when on March 4th 1995, that they would be the ones who unleashed a new brand of horror into the world. With the Reds having built up significant forces in the region, and after confirming which way the wind was blowing, the Fascists shocked the world by shelling the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant.

    [1] Forgive me, this was meant to be the audio recording of the Well to Hell Hoax. I've changed it to the current video.

    [2] Unfortunately, almost everything I wrote is a direct copy of what the Bosnian Serb armies did to Bozniak women, including the construction of camps precisely for the purpose. The Rwandan Genodide ‘rape squads’ were also horrifyingly real and used to extract a slow death out of the victim. Just another of the things I've learned in creating this TL that I regret knowing.
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    The Wonder of America
  • Hello all, please forgive the scale of this update. I didn't mean for it to go on this long but I wanted to try and catch all the different fronts up to speed in a single update. This pretty much captures the situation in Russia in entirety by the end of June 1995. Some grimdark but mostly a more hopeful chapter.

    Edit: Made minor cameo in the Ukraine segment for a certain entertainer

    The Wonder of America

    Extract from 'Second As Farce: Petrograd Vs Stalingrad' by Jessica Matthews

    The shelling of the Obninsk Nuclear Reactor had been ordered by Barkashov from Moscow. The move’s intention was not, as Barkashov had made it seem, an attempt to release the radiation itself but to spread the fear that it could. Indeed, given the distance, they could barely reach the site by artillery anyway. Only a few hits actually got anywhere near the reactor, but the immediate effect was to further throw Communist lines into turmoil. In the West, President Clinton announced that any further deliberate targeting of nuclear facilities would be treated as the equivalent of the use of nuclear weapons, though he failed to elaborate on what the Administration’s response to an actual nuclear strike would be apart from being ‘unacceptable’ and requiring ‘full retaliation’ - in reality the White House and Pentagon had been debating their response to an internal nuclear strike for months and were still unsure what to do, let alone among the Allies. This announcement got a stern warning from Nevzorov to Barkashov about inviting Western retaliation. Nevzorov and the other leaders in Petrograd had not been told about the RNU's plans and were understandably furious, but Barkashov replied that he knew what he was doing. Indeed, suddenly no one among the Communist forces wanted to be anywhere near the reactors anywhere along the line. But while the Commissars in Moscow were notoriously strict about maintaining order, and indeed reports indicate perhaps one thousand individual killings by Commissars over the March 4th-6th period in Moscow, Smolensk was still somewhat lacking in the numbers of Commissars to hold discipline. Barkashov would maintain his reputation for cunning ruthlessness and kept the RNU from being a subservient paramilitary to the Nashis.

    The ultimate result was that on March 6th the lines near Smolensk broke. Nashi forces, including the young Neo-Nazi Dmitry Utkin (nicknamed ‘Wagner’ due to his being Hitler’s favourite composer and infamous for cruelty that startled even the Nashis), completely seized the city on March 10th. In fear of the Fascists seizing the ICBM fields of Kozelsk, the entirety of the location’s nuclear weapons were destroyed, much as the Yasny ICBM fields were destroyed along with their warheads as the large and cumbersome missiles were considered too dangerous to hand over. Despite the reduction in nuclear warheads, the Tatishchevo ICBM fields alone were enough to provide all the nuclear deterrent the Reds needed (not to mention the Black Sea Fleet and assorted short-range missiles). They had to be careful there too, as by June the entirety of the Orenburg province west of the Urals had fallen to the Uralic Alliance, with the Tatars on the outskirts of Samara, which likewise forced nuclear weapons to be moved into the centre of Anpilov’s holdings. At the same time by the end of June, the Bryansk and Kaluga Oblasts had mostly fallen, putting Red Moscow at serious risk, not to mention the ethnic minorities who hadn’t already fled over the border, few that there increasingly were.

    The Petrograd government took an interesting position to Belorussians and Ukrainians. They considered them of identical blood but with a ‘poisonous mindset’, much as Nazis had regarded German Communists. But unlike the Caucasians and Central Asians, they were given a chance to solve the matter. They were given the choice of declaring in contract that they were ‘Russian’ and pledged to use only the Russian language and to completely surrender any trace of their heritage, including name changes if their name. For example, ‘Volodomyr’ would have to become ‘Vladimir’. Those who refused were alternatively sent to the ‘Honorary Russian Brigades’ if they were ‘adult males’ (often just 14 or 15 year old boys) or to the ‘Women and Children Holding Centre’ camps if they were not - being Slavic was no panacea and simply made them even more targeted for violation. Indeed, due to being ‘traitors’ they were often treated worse, particularly in Camp Dagda, place of such characters as Anton Krasovsky, known simply to both the inmates and guards simply as ‘Monster’ for his treatment of Ukrainian children.

    Naturally, of those that could not escape, the vast majority chose the option of renouncing their ethnicity while secretly feeling it even more strongly in their hearts. Most Ukrainians and Belorussians had already fled the border regions since the war started as they were close to safety and were treated substantially better than ethnic Russians upon arrival as refugees. Indeed Kubans would often be led by their grandfathers and grandmothers as they tried to flee into Ukraine, as typically only they would remember the Ukrainian language that they had traditionally spoken in the region before the Russification of the Stalin and Post-Stalin eras. They would do all the talking and consequently convince the border guards that they and their family were ‘Ukrainian refugees’ as opposed to ‘Russian refugees’, and could therefore stay in Ukraine and avoid being loaded to Kaliningrad, not that there was any choice between Kaliningrad’s difficulties and Russia’s cataclysm either.

    The most visceral example of that cataclysm could be found in Moscow, which had seen itself brought to biblical destruction. Its destruction has led to the common phrase among the West of ‘The Lost City of Moscow’, of a city almost as fabled and impossible to reach as El Dorado or Atlantis. Almost no building had escaped shelling and destruction - it looked exactly like Stalingrad during World War 2. But the line stayed infuriatingly stable along the Moskva River, with the expelled non-Slavic population now on the south side of the river having beefed up the Communists’ numbers. The river itself had been the tortured witness of the downfall of Moscow, tortured not only by the blood it ran with, the mud that had been churned inside it and the rubble that filled it, but to see what it lost. St. Basil’s and the Kremlin no longer existed, even as stumps of rubble. Red Square was a mangled, smouldering jungle of bricks, shrapnel and rotting limbs. The Bolshoi Theatre was entombed beneath a mountain of wreckage, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had been reduced to the metal from whence it was made. If a stranger had walked around Moscow in Spring of 1995, they would never have believed that this was perhaps the joint-most important city in the world, where the limits of one’s vision was often not the buildings blocking the view but of the smoke and dust. They would never have believed there were once museums, theatres, culture, or even civilisation where they stood. To great joy, a few are occasionally discovered even today in the private art galleries of the world, having been pulled by opportunists sometimes literally seconds before flames were about to consume them. The great parks, buildings and streets no longer existed, and lifetimes of work were rendered for naught. The museums had not been cleared out and their inventory perished in the chaos. It was a situation almost identical to Warsaw in 1944, only with the fighting continuing. But in terms of the number dead, they were likewise astonishing.

    It was estimated that by April 1995, 120,000 had died violently in the Battle for Moscow alone, mostly civilians trying to escape the madness. Of the military casualties, it was 3:1 in favour of Barkashov, as the Communists regularly tried to storm across the river and were mowed down by machine guns and artillery whenever they tried. While many had expected the superior wealth of military experience in the leadership of the Red Army to be a plus, in reality it often meant that the ones in charge were the ones who knew how to bribe and backstab, and whose military capability would reach an infamy levelling Italian World War One General Luigi Cadorna. The RNU, while more ruthless than even the Nashis, were also actually more meritocratic than the Red Army. They also had more personal experience in urban combat and were able to run rings around Soviet commanders who came from connected families. The RNU showed no mercy to non-Slavs, and would kill captured Tatars and Caucasians immediately - raping a non-Slavic woman would be considered a serious crime, however, not by dint of the raped victim (who would be executed immediately) but the rapist having ‘race-mixed’.

    The levels of delusion had already begun reaching absurd levels in Petrograd. School curriculums were changed to make the ‘New Chronology’ of new Education Minister Anatoly Fomenko the official version of history for the Nationalist state. This theory stated that the entirety of global history had been an invention of the Vatican and Western governments to minimise Russia’s influence, including the histories of the Arabs and China. Accordingly, Genghis Khan, Christopher Columbus and almost all important Mediaeval figures were actually Russians of the ‘Russian Horde Empire’. Christ was actually crucified in the Twelfth Century in Turkey, the Crusades and Trojan Wars were the same event, Jerusalem was actually Constantinople, Christians came first and Jews came second as a breakaway religion for merchants, the Hagia Sophia was the Temple of Solomon, and that there had actually been a thriving Russian empire in the Americas up until 1776 that had been more prosperous than even the 13 Colonies. Other members close to Alexander Dugin’s associates in the Pamyat and Mystic Nationalist movements found positions of great cultural responsibility, including Ilya Glazunov (whose ‘Timeless Russia’ painting practically became the centrepiece of national propaganda) and Dmitri Vasilyev. Dugin’s influence, while impressive, was still limited. When he explained in a meeting with senior government officials that in any future conflict with Ukraine they should prioritise Snake Island because ‘The ontological significance in the sacred geography of Snake Island, home of Achilles and of the shrine of Apollo, ensure that whoever controls Snake Island controls the world’, Shafarevich quipped, “Well that explains a lot! Between the 1870s until after the Great Patriotic War, Romania actually ran the world!” After the meeting Shafarevich was warned from ever making comments like that again.

    Extract from ‘A Continent of Fire’ by James Melfi

    To the ‘March of the Siberian Riflemen’, which would become the anthem of Lebed’s government, onwards the Siberian Provisional Government’s forces marched into the void of the tundra. Rokhlin’s army banked north, following the Tobol River up to the Ob River and northwards to the Arctic. Their aim was to make it to the Arctic Circle, liberate the cities and resources of the north and pay back Lebed’s donors, who had provided swarms of well-made and well-kept supplies just for the occasion, with reopened trade routes for icebreakers. To the north things were even worse given the isolation, as the collapse in societal structure had undone the invisible threads that bound Russia together. Rokhlin’s own outfit was by far the most organised group along the Ob, working his way from Priobye to Berezovo and ultimately to Salekhard. That these places hardly spring to the imagination is natural - they were small towns at best, completely dislocated from the Russian interior. As Rokhlin moved northwards, he recorded in his notes how he was ‘Going insane from seeing more bears than people’. The town of Sherkaly, for instance, was inexplicably devoid of people when Rokhlin arrived, the mystery now going down the same way as the Mary Celeste - the bodies of the residents have never been found. Elsewhere, of course, were the telltale madness one expected, but always completely unexpected in their results. In the town of Shaitanka, the town was found to be under the rule of the ‘Kingdom of Russia’, specifically an old woman who claimed to be Anastasia despite not being nearly old enough, and had somehow convinced the starving town to along with the delusion. In the town of Berezovo just up the river, the town had been completely locked down by local NSF officials, and the residents consequently did not even know that Makashov had died and that a Civil War had begun, believing officials that the starvation was due to a Western crop disease to destroy Russian agriculture. In the town of Muzhi, human meat was publicly sold in the marketplace as if it was pork or beef. Most surprising to Rokhlin was the total lack of resistance, recalling ‘we usually didn’t have to physically fight something that wasn’t a bear until every 100km or so. The main fight was against the sheer maddening emptiness of the quiet taiga. It was a war for sanity, and I hold nothing against those villages who succumbed to it. I don’t know how I stayed sane myself’.

    Finally, they did meet significant resistance at the town of Salekhard, just on the cusp of the entrance to the Arctic Sea. Forward brigades were stunned by a seemingly professional outfit taking cover and using decent tactics to that effect. Eventually, however, they could hear cussing from the ones firing upon them, and impromptu surrender negotiations. Mercifully having no dead, the Siberian forward regiment approached the soldiers to find out what was going on. As it turned out, they weren't a bunch of nobodies from the town like before: these were troops from the Komi Republic. The Republic had spent the previous months in blissful neglect, the Petrograd government too focussed on defeating the Reds to bother with them. Consequently, they had cleared out everything to their north and had already begun to get behind the Ural mountains for a better path to the sea. They had already taken Salekhard and everything north that was east of the Pechora River, Novaya Zemlya the obvious exception as they had no navy. Rokhlin would consequently stage a meeting in Vorkuta on May 20th under the auspices of the Komi Republic, which was run by Yuri Spiridonov. The two met and were able to hash out an agreement that relinquished everything east of the Urals to Lebed’s government in return for partaking in the spoils of war, an agreement that made both very happy. Spiridonov told Rokhlin in relation to their makeshift alliance that he was ‘Komi’s first friend’ and that they hoped to make a hundred. By the end of June, Rokhlin was not only receiving supplies by boat from the Arctic, but was marching on the Urengoy gas fields.

    At the same time Lebed was marching east in a much more tumultuous fashion, running into significantly more resistance than Rokhlin on what he officially labelled ‘The March to the Pacific’. Lebed had a peculiar dream about filling the borders of the map a certain colour, believing he could singlehandedly conquer the most territory of any one man who ever lived. Certainly, Siberia had the space but he also needed the men to do it. While the number men he had was plenty it was a big area and troops would inevitably be stretched thin. Consequently, Lebed and his supporters began to make use of the global mercenary network. While romantics would volunteer go to the Caucasus, the ones on business were going to Siberia, their chances of glory and reward proudly advertised in Soldier of Fortune magazine. Among the most famous was the South African private military outfit ‘Executive Outcomes’ who lent 1,000 men to help accompany Lebed as he marched eastwards. SADF veterans would recall that the villages were in worse shape than many of the worst places they saw in Angola and Namibia. The group developed a reputation as ‘The Last of the Commie-Killers’, for their skill and tenacity, sometimes winning battles against NSF militias at 10:1 ratios. His first major battle would be the Battle of Novosibirsk on March 4th 1995, which he hoped would revive Russian morale as the Battle of Vladivostok continued to seem like a hopeless failure. Novosibirsk was under the rule of cabal of NSF officials who refused to surrender the city. They had predictably ran a terror regime in the city, desperately holding on to power at rifle-point. Holding up in the city, they waited for Lebed to approach into the city and get cut down by the urban combat. Instead, Lebed darted north and seemingly for the Tomsk Nuclear Power station, knowing it would cut off the power in the region and leave him in control - the NSF commanders had not planned particularly effectively. Seeing the strategy, the NSF desperately sent troops out to try and halt the advance, only to find further detachments from Lebed that had been in hiding dashing into the city to minimal resistance and joyous ovation from the liberated locals; the locals that had the strength to stand on their feet and talk, of course. Lebed himself had, in a moment of near suicidal madness, been among those who charged into the city, justifying it by claiming that he had to prove himself a brave leader in order to unite and save Russia. Miraculously surviving, and looking like a God in the simple fact of not starving while many of the residents were, to quote one of the Siberian soldiers, ‘Flaps of skin fluttering around a skeleton. I wondered how anyone could stand when I could see not a single layer of muscle around their legs. There was just bone inside a fluttering skin package - if you sliced it I doubted if even if blood would come out. Even their eyes appeared to be emaciated, as if I could see into their skulls through translucent eyes.’

    The NSF leadership of Novosibirsk would flee to Tomsk for a significantly more dastardly reason, it turned out. Their plan, according to the documents found in the mayor’s office - the mayor’s corpse still in the fridge in case even the leadership began to starve - was to flee to the Tomsk nuclear reactor and threaten to blow the complex up unless they get amnesty and aslyum in Switzerland. Unfortunately for them, their car was run off the road by a detachment from Executive Outcomes after a failed attempt to force a surrender. The car was made for only five people at most but somehow had ten NSF bureaucrats in the flaming wreckage, one in the trunk, likely desperate to escape Lebed and the inevitable firing squad he had for NSF leaders - a policy that was controversial in the West but increasingly smiled upon as the war continued. Lebed’s forces would take Tomsk by April 13th, but his glory would be short-lived as the Far Eastern Republic pulled off a shocking upset victory over North Korea While Lebed was obviously happy that Russians had won over despotic foreign occupation, he was confused and baffled by the new Far Eastern Republic, or Kingdom as it soon would be known. However, his donors warned him not to directly face the FEK, since it was extremely popular in the West. Reluctantly, Lebed began communication with the FEK to develop common objectives.

    In his first telephone discussion with Aksyuchits on May 2nd 1995, the first question Lebed asked him was ‘So, do you want to live together or die together?’ The two made a vague agreement to meet somewhere around Mongolia and clear out the remaining NSF forces, as well as contain the Mongolians and work out what the hell was going on in Yakutia. With that, Lebed spent the rest of May and June clearing out the Tomsk, Novosibirsk and Altai Krai regions successfully. Aksyuchits would repay the favour, clearing out both the Primorsky region and successfully capturing the entirety of the former Jewish Autonomous Oblast at the same time. Both Lebed and Aksyuchits found abandoned nuclear weapons sites during this timeframe, raising the number of nuclear parties in the Second Russian Civil War to five, while investigators scrambled to see if and how many warheads were missing. The discipline of Lebed’s troops and humanitarian handling of civilians would not gain him the devotion that Aksyuchits had in the West, but it did give him solid respect among the Western public. He would also would win the bizarre endorsement of boxer Mike Tyson, who said of him “He’s Alexander. I’m Alexander. We’re Alexander the Conqueror. He knows how to cut ‘em up and cut ‘em down. We’re one of a kind.” His endorsement would eventually net him an official ambassadorship to the region in the 2010s.

    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz

    Alexi Venediktov had been one of the many political refugees that fled from Russia during the fall of Yeltsin and the rise of the NSF. The Echo of Moscow Radio Station he worked for, famous for its tireless position of allowing all significant view points to be represented rather than picking and choosing narratives, was now technically an Echo of Kaliningrad station. Many of its editors had perished in mysterious shootings in the night from 1993 to 1994, but Venediktov had known who to bribe and when, thus able to reestablish the station in Kaliningrad and become the Chief Editor. While it was a boon for the Kaliningrad government to have the station as it led to having some credentials as a free government, Venediktov had no scruples about turning the station’s ire at Gaidar. While support for the National Salvation Front had soared after the seizure of Crimea, the shambolic invasion of Chechnya and subsequent implosion of the Russian state had likewise shattered the movement. Yet Gaidar still refused to release restrictions on free speech and assembly, erected in the name of ‘preserving democracy’, which became known by cynics as the ‘End Democracy to Save Democracy’ approach.

    Venediktov arranged to have former Novgorod Governor Boris Nemstov in the studio on April 25th 1995. Nemstov had been arrested by the National Salvation Front after refusing to relinquish his governorship to be replaced by a loyalist (since a Jew like Nemstov was unlikely to be compliant) but he was released under the Petrograd government not only in return for supplies, but also to increase political confusion in Kaliningrad. Petrograd believed that liberal democracy could not stand up to authoritarianism, and that Gaidar’s own repression was proof of this. They theorised that releasing figures like Gorbachev, Yabloko's Grigory Yavlinsky and Nemtsov would dilute the leadership of the Kaliningrad government, increase the political division and that their ‘benign’ behaviour would promote a favourable contrast to the Anpilov government in Stalingrad. Indeed, to an extent Petrograd was right. On April 15th, when Nemstov once again publicly criticised the Gaidar government as ‘dictatorial’, police entered the studio live on air and arrested Nemtsov on the charge of ‘undermining democracy’, to which Nemstov replied “I’m being arrested again?” as he was put in handcuffs, a reference to his arrest by the NSF.

    Nemtsov’s arrest in such a public manner was contrasted vigorously against the heroic actions of Russians in Vladivostok on the opposite side of the world, indeed it’s suspected the reason the police suddenly went after Nemtsov was that Gaidar was increasingly on diplomatically shaky ground as Lebed and Aksyuchits became popular figures in the Russian sphere. Aksyuchits’s victory in Vladivostok, though a feel-good story for most of Western Christianity, was in reality a gigantic headache for Western political leadership. They were finding it increasingly hard to justify their position of sole recognition of Gaidar’s rule over the entirety of the official borders of the Russian Federation, including Chechnya, when Gaidar and his administration were seen as corrupt backstabbers. True, Gaidar’s preservation of Kaliningrad had not only saved the Oblast’s residents from the hellscape the rest of the country became, but became a priceless refugee ‘haven’ to offload refugees onto. However, this only further undermined the Gaidar government, as not only were the natives angry with the mass of people that had swarmed the oblast, but the refugees themselves were angry at the squalor that existed in the camps. The obvious solution was to increase the number of refugees taken in places other than Kaliningrad, but this was hardly an easy task. Wałęsa said that any Russian refugees forced upon Poland would be chucked over the Kaliningrad border again. The Baltics said that even if they wanted to the refugees would probably be ‘torn to shreds’ by the locals. Belarus and Ukraine had their own ethnic concerns and didn’t want to widen the gap. One particularly crude example was to close off the passage of adult males as refugees since ‘they should be fighting instead’ - who they were supposed to fight for in European Russia was unclear. But unless the refugees were allowed to go to different countries, and this was not even counting the refugees in Kazakhstan and Ukraine, there was no way the situation could be resolved.

    On April 29th, however, the Gaidar government knew they’d met their match, when none other than Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn walked off the same runway that Gaidar had landed on back in 1993 and was soon thronged by crowds wherever he went - not hard considering how many people there were. After a period of extended gloom following the NSF’s seizure of power and calamitous consequences, Solzhenitsyn had been inspired by Aksyuchits (though annoyed that he had divided Russia) that there was still hope for the country, albeit that would only exist once Gaidar had stepped down and restored real democracy to the Oblast. After Nemstov’s arrest, Solzhenitsyn knew he had to strike when the iron was hot, and so made use of Gorbachev’s re-establishment of his citizenship. Solzhenitsyn went to the middle of Kaliningrad city and demanded that Gaidar promise to resign and re-establish democratic rule. While Solzhenitsyn was not interested in taking power himself, nor did he command much love from the generally apathetic population, he knew the power he had in the West. He knew that in a fight between him and Gaidar, the West would never choose Gaidar. When Gaidar demanded Solzhenitsyn’s arrest, the police refused, telling Gaidar that once the Americans inevitably cancel their aid money after arresting a figure like Solzhenitsyn, there was no way they would get the bribes he promised. Inspired by Solzhenitsyn, millions came to the city (mostly refugees) to demand more supplies, which they assumed would come in light of a Solzhenitsyn-endorsed government. They also demanded a release to political prisoners like Nemstov, who had gone from one among many political refugees to the superstar of the Anti-Gaidar movement overnight. Finally, Gaidar’s cabinet, led by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, approached Gaidar and told him that he had no choice but to resign, promising to give him amnesty for any acts committed ‘in the name of democracy’. On May 1st, 1995, Gaidar announced his resignation as President of Russia and vowed for elections to be held by the end of June.

    In the ensuing elections that June, Nemstov would win the Presidential election with 58% of the vote with his main contender in Grigory Yavlinsky getting only 30%. Nemstov’s youth making him known in the West as the ‘Russian John Kennedy’ - many theorise the fact that his sharing the first name as Yeltsin was an irrational but noticeable reason for the favourable perception he gained in the West. He also knew the fine art of political double-speak, saying that ‘Republics of the Federation that don’t want to be in Russia should not be in Russia’ while never formally committing to recognising the independence of the various parties of the Free Nation Alliance. Predictably, both Petrograd and Stalingrad trashed his election for being a ‘Non-Russian’ and a ‘Zionist agent’ respectively. In the Parliamentary elections, Nemstov’s recently constructed ‘Young Russia’ Party came in first but the social democrat Yabloko party (who had become the main opposition to Gaidar since the NSF imploded) came in a very close second, who privately resented Nemtsov for becoming the anti-Gaidar leader almost by sheer accident while they had struggled since the beginning and had been through the same arrest and bartering process as Nemstov for a fraction of the credit. Gaidar’s ‘Choice of Russia’ Party would get a barren 10% of the vote, though both he and his regime were given amnesty and continued to be politicians in the exiled Russian state.

    This was met with much relief in the West, who hoped to build a better relationship between Kaliningrad and the various Eastern states, but they didn’t realise some of the other consequences of the trip. Namely, Solzhenitsyn’s horror at the sight of the refugee camps in Kaliningrad, saying they reminded him of his own imprisonment, leading him to become a strong advocate for the West taking a heavier burden of the refugee share. If it had come from anyone else, it may have been dismissed, but Solzhenitsyn’s insistence, coupled with the desire to help the new government succeed and the simple fact that the six million and increasing number of people Kaliningrad were simply going to create a humanitarian catastrophe, Western governments accepted the need for the biggest refugee relocation program in history. By the end of the year, the following breakdown of refugees that had moved or were planned to move from the mainland Russian Federation to elsewhere since 1993 were determined.

    The largest was Ukraine, agreeing to officially absorb an eye-watering 5,000,000 refugees into their nation. Most adults that were approved were from territory desired by Ukrainian nationalists like the Kuban, with would-be residents forced to sign a ‘contract of Ukrainisation’ if they wanted to stay permanently, a contract ironically like the Russification contracts of Petrograd, only the penalty was going to Kaliningrad instead of being murdered. Many Russians had Ukrainian family and moved in with them to lighten the load on the camp system. Despite the difficulties over Crimea, the fact that so many Ukrainians had family on the other side of the border meant Ukrainians still regarded Russians as their brothers, assuming they’d do the same for them. As one teenage refugee shelter volunteer turned future famous Ukrainian comedian, Volodymyr Zelenskyy would recall, "Ukrainians are always ready to support family, however many millions of them there are." Many war orphans were also raised here, adopted by Ukrainian families given the shared ethnic and cultural connection. President Lukianenko believed that children would make the best refugees since they would be the most malleable towards the creation of a Ukrainian identity. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which had been created by political pressure from Lukianenko in March 1995 to fully separate from any cultural sway to Ukraine’s east, called upon all Ukrainians to raise Russia’s orphaned children as their own as a point of Orthodox Unity and to guide them in ‘The Ukrainian Way’. While rarely explained, the implication was that it was to imbue the young incomers with the notion that while their race (Slavic) was determined, their ethnicity (Russian/Ukrainian) was a choice. Further, that the Ukrainian culture had proven itself superior choice to the Russian through its avoidance of the cataclysm east of the border, proven by its hosting of the holiest site in Orthodoxy, the Lavra Monastery.

    Wild and wacky theories became the pastime of Ukrainian nationalists to try and define Ukraine’s new role in the world in which Russia was reduced. One popular book was from Ukrainian Nationalist Oleksii Arestovych, who had volunteered in Circassia, and suggested that Ukraine’s destiny was to reforge the legacy of the Kyivan Rus and become the spiritual leader of East Europe against cosmopolitan West Europe. He suggested that since Moscow was destroyed, that Kyiv was now the official Third Rome, especially given its longer history than Moscow and historical and religious importance to the Slavic and Orthodox people. While identified as being close to the Far-Right, the growth of his ideology actually increased the level of tolerance for those with ancestry in Russia in Ukraine, who are by and large the most patriotic Ukrainians in the country. According to a recent Gallup poll, eighty-three percent of those who came to Ukraine from Russia in the 1990s identify as Ukrainian. While certainly an immense cost in the beginning, the decision to try and integrate those millions of refugees ended up being perhaps the best decision Ukraine ever made. As Ukraine’s status continued to rise in the coming years, their position as the new head of Orthodoxy has only grown more assured, with future intake after 1995 cementing their status as the most populous Slavic state in 2022 at nearly 60 million.

    The other destinations for Russian refugees were:

    Siberia: ~3,000,000 (moved and to be moved from Kazakhstan along the Kazakh border. Often this simply meant moving the same camps a few hundred metres over the border to meet targets.)
    America: ~1,800,000 (ironically maxed out by elements of the Republican Party as they believed it would be an excuse to clamp down on the border since ‘we need all the resources for the Russian refugees’, based on the belief the Russian refugees would vote Republican while non-Cuban Latin Americans would vote Democrat).
    Germany: ~ 1,600,000 (Including the vast majority of Russia's Volga German population, who made use of the ancestral repatriation guarantees of German law)
    Kaliningrad: ~1,500,000 (down from ~5,000,000, and though still a monumental increase prevented a full scale collapse. Those that stayed primarily were the Yeltsinists who came before Makashov’s plane crashed)
    Belarus: ~1,000,000 (Like Ukraine, a place often used for orphans given the shared heritage)
    FEK: ~1,000,000 (extremely difficult given the barrenness of the region but hoped that Japanese and Korean aid would help in return for few refugees on their actual soil)
    Kazakhstan: ~1,000,000 (with the hope of moving the remainder to Lebed’s government, down from ~5,000,000 as well)
    France: ~1,000,000 (As with the American Republicans, many on the French Nationalist Right like Jean-Marie Le Pen were at least indifferent to bringing in such large refugee numbers on the belief they would become political allies against Algerian refugees, who had also increased in number since their civil war. Russian and Algerian street gangs fighting in Marseilles would be a popular element of French pop culture in the years to come)
    Latin America: ~600,000 (Mexico, Argentina and Brazil would be the most interested, in that order)
    Italy: ~600,000 (Generally offloaded to the south since the north didn’t want to deal with the refugee numbers)
    Israel: ~550,000 (Naturally almost exclusively Jews and spouses, Russian immigrants soon became by far the largest of all of Israel’s immigrant groups and quickly became political kingmakers opposed to both the Palestinians and Orthodox Jews)
    United Kingdom: ~500,000
    Spain: ~500,000
    Australia + New Zealand: ~500,000
    Canada: ~500,000
    Baltic States (combined): ~200,000 (Overwhelmingly ethnic kin who either fled from the 1993 annexations or were traded like horses)
    Greece: ~200,000 (Orthodox unity pushed a relatively large intake)
    Austria: ~200,000
    Caucasus Republics: 200,000 (with exception of spouses almost 100% ethnically Caucasians, like Chechens)
    Netherlands: ~200,000
    Belgium: ~100,000
    Portugal: ~100,000
    Serbia: ~100,000 (to cement demographic control over Kosovo, and though the West wasn’t happy, they considered relieving the crippling refugee numbers an absolute must)
    Sweden: ~100,000
    Bulgaria: ~ 80,000
    Finland: ~70,000 (Mostly Karelians and Finns)
    Romania: ~60,000
    Turkey: ~50,000
    Rest of Balkans: ~50,000
    Switzerland: ~40,000
    Norway: ~40,000
    Denmark: ~30,000
    Ireland: ~30,000
    Japan + South Korea: ~25,000 (A low figure in return for significant monetary support)
    Philippines: ~10,000
    Poland: ~5,000 (exclusively those of Polish heritage)
    Czechia + Slovakia: ~5,000
    Hungary: ~3,000
    Iceland: ~2,000

    In total, over twenty million refugees had fled Russia from Yeltsin’s death until the end of 1995 - this does not count the outflow of immigrants and refugees from the Russian Federation from 1985-1993. And of course, this does not count those who were killed and starved in the war thus far, and in the war to come. All in all, the demographic collapse of Russia was not simply immense, but terminal. Of the males that left Russia, they were overwhelmingly the smartest, most resourceful, the youngest, and the most worldly, though a majority of the refugees were women and children. Many parents paid for their children to be handed over to ‘Prizraki’ (‘Ghosts’) who would get them to the borders. Prizraki charged extortionate fees for everyone they helped over the border, but for many it was their only chance, even if not for them but at least their child. With Russia losing its greatest resource, her people, they would enrich the nations of the world for generations to come, leaving her behind. In fictional tropes, the ‘Wandering Russian’ has become a cliche of 21st century pop culture, of a Russian refugee (or descendent) trying to process their identity in a world without a home they would wish to return to, or looking in vain for any survivors from their vanished childhood world.

    The backlash to this immense number of people was strong, especially when the official numbers for each state were released, with almost no countries on the list comfortable with the numbers their countries accepted. The problem was that this sudden immense intake came in around the same time that Western economies realised the scope of the economic downturn the Russian collapse had caused. Widespread fears of nuclear war caused many to sell off their city properties to live in the countryside, causing an implosion in real estate prices and triggering the burst of the housing market bubble, albeit at a mercifully early stage compared to what it could have been. The continuing bad news led Alan Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve, to announce on June 28th 1995 that the world was facing a Second Great Depression. This naturally called into question various governments’ ability to fulfil these refugee obligations. Furthermore there were many who worried that Russian refugees would bring crime and political extremism. Violence against Russian refugees was relatively rare in Europe, though slightly higher in America. The horror of the Russian Civil War had, in some sense, smeared the reputation of Russians as savages, but the victory at Vladivostok and Nemtsov’s electoral win played a huge role in reviving positive perceptions of Russians and making people think of the atrocities in European Russia as due to unrepresentative criminals. While opinions of Russians had imploded during the days of the NSF, the fact that in 1991 the vast majority of Americans had positive opinions of Russians inspired activists that they could turn the perception around.

    The controversial strategy to try and ease the public’s discomfort with the number of refugees and immigrants was called ‘The Blonde Strategy’, on the basis that if a young, attractive blonde woman was the face of a Russian refugee, few would believe them to be a threat in either a criminal or political sense. And of course, it was assumed their attractiveness would endear them to the public. To that end, news organisations would often be pushed to use photos of the most attractive young woman they could find at any of the refugee centres, especially if they seemed to be enjoying some piece of Western pop culture (listening to a walkman, chewing bubble gum, etc.) to further make her more relatable like she was the girl next door and to undermine the idea that she had an attachment to the Soviet Union. There is significant evidence that this significantly reduced hostility to the idea of large scale Russian refugee settling, especially among males. One activist at the time described it as ‘altruistically weaponising the male sex drive’. Perhaps the most infamous incident was when Playboy did a charity edition featuring professional Russian models now living in America, with 100% of the money gained to be used to support Russian refugee charities. Though all the women featured had left to live in America since before the war started, many believed (and Playboy may have wanted them to believe for publicity) that some of the women were actual war refugees and that Playboy had been exploiting survivors. Though perhaps the most controversial edition they ever published, it was also their most successful. It was perfect media fodder and was seemingly the only thing in the news in October 1995. Though controversial among progressive activists today, especially in its more tasteless iterations, it is considered one of the most successful campaigns in reducing hostility to migrants in recent history. When one veteran of the campaign was asked about how she felt about the controversy among modern progressives about the campaign, she replied, “Of course the modern activists are angry about it - it actually worked.” Ultimately, the use of this sort of propaganda was instrumental in turning anti-refugee sentiment away from questions about the character of the refugees themselves to claims that other countries weren’t pulling their weight.

    On June 15th, the first official shipment of Russian refugees to America arrived at Ellis Island in New York. It was from beginning to end a publicity stunt, with the immigrants (overwhelmingly the most photogenic and primarily children) having been flown to an aircraft carrier offshore before being put on a boat to send them to New York City to falsely imply they had sailed from Kaliningrad. Some of them were wearing ill-fitting clothes to make them resemble 19th century immigrants. But it had a purpose. The purpose was to draw a direct line between the new intake and the majority of Americans who had at least some ancestor who came during the 19th to early 20th century by means of New York City. One new child intake by the name of Thomas Minton would later recall, “From the fields of rural Russia, from the emptiness, the hatred, the fear, the terror, we crossed over the sea. The great Atlantic that divided the past from the future. As we drew to shore, we saw all that we could ever hoped for: the wonder of America. The behemoth of Manhattan, as large as a country. The Statue of Liberty, standing like a guardian of all that was good. The Twin Towers, the immovable bastions of America’s might, as strong and awe-inspiring as she was. It was what we imagined America would be like. For the first time, just by looking at her, we could believe in her. From where we came from, from the terror, we knew we had found deliverance. Even as young children, we understood that this place was different. That there really was a place in this era of evil that people could believe in. The Fascists could not hurt us here. The Communists could not hurt us here. America would protect us. America was here for us. We embraced our country like a scared child embraced their mother and father. A mother who would love you forever, and a father who would always protect you. America to us was not simply the land of the free, it was the hope of the world.” Standing at the harbour of Ellis Island was New York Mayor Rudy Giulliani, greeting them with a simple but heartfelt, “Welcome to America! Welcome to New York City!” Despite the money spent on the fanfare, given that one of the babies on board was future Tech-giant Vitaly Buterin, it’s safe to say that the initial boatload more than repaid the welcome they received. Indeed, like Italians to pizza, it's hard to imagine someone working in the American IT sector without a Russian accent or heritage today.

    Extract from 'The Reconquista of the Caucasus' by Levan Galogre

    The best news that the Anpilov government received in the first half of 1995 came in the south. While Sochi had been surrounded, the Circassians forces had run out of steam by March and were waiting to process their newfound wave of volunteers. Ironically, the native Circassians had a better time working with the Ukrainian and Chechen militias due to the common language (Russian, not that it was an enjoyable compromise), than many of the Circassians who could only speak Turkish. Though Turkish NATO instructors did their best to try and get some force cohesion going on, the situation was not going to be solved before July at least. But real chaos would arise in the east of the Caucasus. Dudayev’s northern flank had been almost entirely cleared since the Russians were too stretched to go after Ichkeria, making Dudayev believe the time had come at the zenith of his popularity to try and cement the direction he wanted Ickeria to go in the future. He began to close schools and mosques linked with Salafist Islam, and tried to cultivate closer ties to Europe, going as far as to visit both Kyiv and Warsaw in April 1995. But while Dudayev was thinking he could nudge the Islamists out of his government, the Islamists were not going to go down without a fight. They had consolidated around the figure of Shamil Basayev, one of the most ruthless Islamists in the whole of the Caucasus. At the same time, the Islamists in Dagestan were consolidating behind the scenes to try and take over the Confederation, and they also wanted to be led by Basayev, since borders were nothing in a world controlled by the one God. This would, of course, reduce the pressure on Anpilov’s military.

    On May 25th 1995, the Islamists would strike first. Dudayev had dismissed reports that the Islamists would target him due to his popularity in Ichkeria, but he had underestimated the fanaticism of his own allies. That day, while driving in a motorcade in Grozny, his car was struck by an RPG. Though the assailants were quickly killed and Dudayev would survive despite losing both his right eye and right leg, he would be in a coma for two months in a Parisian hospital, leaving Aslan Maskhadov as the uninspiring stand-in trying desperately to defend secular Ichkeria against the dark forces of the Islamists. All at once, Ichkeria and Dagestan burst into flames. Dagestan would fall relatively quickly, with many of the foreign Islamists that had crawled inside providing the backup for Basayev’s followers, among them Al-Qaeda. On June 10th, the fourteen representatives of the Dagestani Confederacy’s main ethnic groups were decapitated publicly in the ruins of Makhachkala (on the same spot as the Makhachkala Massacre the prior year) by faceless, hooded Islamists like it was the Dark Ages. Basayev announced the beginning of a global Jihad against any party that ‘interfered’ in the Islamic world. A reign of terror began in Dagestan, as the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus (not ‘Dagestan’ as they had far bigger plans) began a wave of mass killings by foreign fanatics trampling over the locals targeting suspected non-Muslims or Muslims that were considered too tolerant of secularism. Without a common unifying identity, Dagestan had been vulnerable to the unifying but totalitarian message of fundamentalist Islam. The Black Flag of the Emirate now hung from every building, even more omnipresent than the Red Flag of Communism at any stage of the USSR’s history.

    In Ichkeria, while the Inguish had overwhelmingly (and ironically) sided with Dudayev’s secularist regime against the new common enemy, the Islamists were estimated by the CIA prior to the assassination attempt to have the support of roughly 25% of the country (support that dropped due genuine anger at targeting Dudayev while the war was still going on). Among them the most notorious brigades of the entire conflict and the Kadyrov clan under Grand Mufti Akhmad Kadyrov, who knew that his influence would vanish in the secular regime Dudayev wanted to create. Everything north of the Terek river had fallen to the Islamists, and most of the east had likewise fallen, going as far inland as the town of Mesker-Yurt, leading to the beginning of the newest siege of Solza-Gala, even more brutal than the Russian attempt. The Islamists were terrifying, committing atrocities that rivalled the Russians, with decapitations that they had so gladly unleashed on Russian teenagers now extended to Chechen teenagers as well. It was the general opinion of international observers that due to the fanaticism of the Islamists and the low morale of the Pro-Dudayev faction (with many fearing he was near death or doomed to be an invalid his whole life), the Ichkerian Federation would fall to the Islamists, leading to a domino effect across the Caucasus that would lead to a vicious Islamist state taking control of the gateway between Europe and Asia. And in a large part thanks to Kim Jong-Il breaking the taboo, it was determined by others that such a thing should never come to pass.

    On June 28th 1995, Islamist forces began to fight their way into the centre of Solza-Gala. They were typically merciless, with female fighters horrified at the thought of a life trapped under the weight of the burka taking up arms, their fate after capture being indescribable. Though the clans fought out of loyalty, the Islamists fought out of divine mission. The scant rebuilding efforts in what prior to Makashov’s plane had been the most destroyed city on Earth were again destroyed. Yet as the Presidential Palace came in eye-shot, defenders and attackers alike were astonished that a swarm of helicopters appeared in the sky. Both knew they didn’t have the resources to field such weapons and were baffled as to what was going on. For a while, no one was sure what they were doing, who they would support, or if they would do anything at all. Finally, a voice coming from the Pro-Dudayev radio transmission told their troops to not fire on the helicopters; they were on their side. With that, the Islamists were buried under a hail of bullets and missiles from the helicopters that almost blocked out the sun. Unprepared for such a visitation, the Islamists made a hasty retreat from the city, the closest they would ever get to seizing the capital of the Ichkerian Federation. As the locals could get a closer look, especially as the men began to disembark from the vehicles, no one could believe what and who had just arrived in the Ichkerian Federation. God himself could scarcely have handed them a greater ally in their war against Basayev. And while they were anxious about the implications, so were the parties north of the Caucasus too. One can only imagine the fear and trembling of the messenger in Stalingrad who had to tell Chairman Anpilov that the Screaming Eagles had landed in Grozny.
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    Made in the USSR
  • Hello again - the first two sections will be relatively light, but the final will be unflinching.

    Made in the USSR


    Extract from ‘Averting Armageddon: The West in the Second Russian Civil War’ by Frank Wolfowitz

    Clinton’s decision to send boots into Solza-Gala was one of the most contentious of his entire term. The risks were enormous. They were risking nuclear war with one or both of the NSF successor states by stepping onto territory that they (and indeed Kaliningrad technically also) recognized as Russian territory. But the fears among the Administration were real that the Emirate was not going to stop at Ichkeria, but begin to worm it’s way down into Azerbaijan and ultimately inspire Islamist fundamentalist terrorism around the world, and undermine order in the Middle East. At a time when the global economy was circling the gutter, the thought of further destabilization in the Middle East was nightmarish. Clinton, doubtless in some capacity thinking about reelection, did not want the global economy to sink any farther. At the same time, Chechens were particularly special to Americans for the unified response the country had in Chechnya’s favor once Russia invaded, and was consequently expelled. The thought of that small state being extinguished by a deranged Islamist theocracy was unthinkable to broad swathes of the public. The only question was whether Anpilov or Nevzorov would order retaliation. To that end, a series of softeners were added. It was determined that only America and Turkey would partake in the operation, that the operation would not extend beyond Ichkeria (and so would not move into Dagestan), and that once Ichkeria was liberated and the local forces were trained and augmented with American help, that American troops would leave. It was hardly an easy call regardless. In terms of logistics, they found help in the form of the Azerbaijanis. Though it was obviously hushed, word of what was going on in the ‘Honorary Russian Brigades’ and ‘Women and Children Holding Centres’ reached the Caucasus. The knowledge of Armenians and Azerbaijanis collectively being tortured and raped alongside each other had defused tensions between the two countries more than anyone could have imagined. While hardly friends, both renewed a sense of responsibility that the Caucasian people would not allow foreigners to massacre them again. Flying from Turkey, the Americans would camp on the Azerbaijani border and with Georgian permission would fly into the Ichkerian capital to save the city from the forces of the Ninth Century.

    Clinton announced the intervention that morning on American television, explaining the limited goals and cautionary measures. This launched a further stock sell-off but a swell in popular support as his approval ratings reached 55%. The NSF states were both outraged but knew that going after America was suicide, especially since America technically wasn’t after them. If anything it would put the heat off of them. Both swore that the first American bullet to hit a Russian soldier would commence World War 3, but they were content to let the Americans try and deal with the mess of the Caucasus. Unfortunately for the Russians, Chechnya was considerably easier for the Americans given the fact the locals actually supported them. Chechens were extremely independent-minded and were horrified at the thought of being swallowed into an Emirate based in Dagestan, even if it was run by a Chechen like Basayev. As the 101st Airborne landed in the Chechen capital, they made quick work of the exhausted Islamist detachments. On July 4th, the capital was declared secure and the American army was now present on every street of the city, an independence day for both the inhabitants and visitors. The Ichkerian and American flag flew side-by-side from the roof of the Presidential Palace that had been burned in the mind of every American for over a year since they first found out that a place called Chechnya even existed. It was also a gigantic boost for Clinton’s approval ratings, rocketing to 65%.

    The Emirate was, of course, furious. Basayev called America a greater monster than Russia and that the Emirate would not rest until the whole of the Caucasus would kneel to Islam’s sword. But Basayev was not the most ardent Anti-American actor in the young state. Indeed perhaps the most wanted was the infamous Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden. He was encouraged by the direction the Muslim world was taking, especially after the Tajikistani Civil War finally concluded which effectively turned Tajikistan into an extension of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda had played an outsized role in pushing the Tajik government once the Russians had left, turning the country into a lawless hellstate like their southern neighbor. The Taliban, a collection of particularly radical Islamist fighters, had almost completely taken over the Afghan state, funded to the hilt by Pakistan. At the same time, the Algerian Civil War continued to rage, with the French asking for a relatively high amount of Russians to make sure they had an excuse as to not bring in a large amount of Algerians. It seemed that the forces of Islamism were slowly overthrowing the Islamic world’s resident overlords, and Bin Laden had bigger plans still. Regarding America as his primary enemy, even greater than Israel, he dreamed of its ultimate destruction and felt the war in Russia was the ultimate chance to accomplish it. He believed that if the West and Russia could be forced into a strategic exchange, the resulting annihilation would not only leave Israel’s population easy prey for extermination but end the corrupting secularising influence of the West in the Islamic World. As the Islamic world would be mostly ignored in the nuclear obliteration, only China at that point would have been a potential enemy of the final victory of the Black Flag, assuming they didn’t get obliterated in the carnage as well. Bin Laden was certain that by the year 2000 that Islam would be the only relevant religion and ideology left in existence, not by persuasion, or even by sword, but by the mushroom cloud.

    The ensuing weeks would not be as pleasant as the sexy arrival. The woods and mountains of the Caucasus were murderous at the best of times, and the Americans found themselves having to deploy more men and accept more losses than they usually would. However, it was quite helpful to exterminate so many wanted terrorists who were popping up like gophers in the Ichkerian countryside. Among the more famous incidents, Ramzan Kadyrov, infamous for his sadistic executions of Russian and later Ichkerian prisoners of war, would be killed twenty miles behind the front lines filming a Jihadi VHS video where he pretended he was shooting American soldiers. The footage of the fake fighting, including the tomahawk missile strike falling on top of them, was all recorded and mercifully preserved. Abu al-Walid, an Arab volunteer for the Islamists, had his position overrun by American troops, and deciding to take his life in martyrdom would undo two grenades and charged the American troops, only to slip to the ground and blow off everything north of his torso without any of the Americans getting hurt. Zemimkhan Vandarbiyev, perhaps the most senior member of Dudayev’s government to turn on him, would meet his end in perhaps the most embarrassing way of them all. While conversing with Islamist fighters inside Dagestan at a weapon’s distribution point, one of the terrorists just beside him accidentally dropped a mine, killing five people, including Vandarbiyev. [2] American intelligence worked out very quickly what was going on, while the Emirate said he had died ‘the way of the martyr’.

    But these amusing fates would not give the Americans what they wanted in Ichkeria. As American troops declared the whole country 'secure' by August 3rd, not only were Islamists continuing to sneak into the country to wreak random acts of terror, but Bin Laden was calling his contacts: including and especially those in Anpilov's Russia.

    Extract from ‘The Bells of Vladivostok’ by Anya Desmond

    The FEK was perhaps the most unlikely state to have come into existence from the Civil War, a case of the wrong person in the right place hijacking what could easily have been a Social Democrat breakaway into a bizarre Orthodox-themed semi-Israel. Aksyuchits had pulled off an impossible victory that assured the existence of his dream of an Orthodox Christian state. After North Korea had found itself on the receiving end of China’s ‘corrective discipline’, the FEK now faced a decision about it’s future movements. The main issue was trying to fulfill their territorial claims which encompassed the entirety of the territory claimed by the former Far Eastern Republic during the first civil war. Aksyuchits concluded that it would be best to prioritise the Chinese border due to fears the Chinese would want to press their influence into the space where Russia used to be. From there, the goal would be Chiba, and then hopefully a meeting with Lebed’s Siberian forces, with whom Aksyuchits had a cool but cooperative relationship. At the same time, they would land troops in the major cities of the Pacific Coast to restore order and provide food. But in order to do that, they needed money and guns, both of which were thin on the ground in Vladivostok. Fortunately for the FEK, they had two extremely willing partners: Japan and South Korea, the former for money, the latter for guns.

    Japan’s cooperation was almost taken for granted, due to the role they had played in helping the Pacific Fleet save Vladivostok. While like Lebed, there was discussion about rights to natural resources, the FEK decided to give the Japanese a more tantalising prize: the return of the four disputed Kurile Islands and the renunciation of their claim. For the South Koreans, they were desperate to show some level of disdain against China for officially occupying Korean territory, comparing their actions to Imperial Japan despite their enmity with the Kims. To this end, South Korea was offered the former island of Noktundo along the North Korean border, the location where Korean legend Yi Sun-sin did battle, all in return for South Korea’s military aid. This was an extremely complicated issue, because the Japanese and Korean government would have to recognise the authority of the FEK over the Kuriles and Noktundo, which it officially didn’t since it only recognised the Kaliningrad government of Nemtsov. Nemtsov was dragged into the situation almost immediately after his coming to power, demanding his own aid money if the territories were going to be handed over. Clinton was flustered about the rift between his Pacific partners and Kaliningrad and tried to mend it peacefully behind the scenes.

    Ironically, it would be Clinton’s own intervention into Ichkeria that convinced Seoul and Tokyo (as well as Nemtsov) that no one truly cared about Kaliningrad anymore. Clinton had given Nemstov a phone call just the day before to merely tell him the intervention was going ahead and that he wasn’t going to stop it. Nemtsov felt humiliated that such an event could happen so early in his term and realised how dependent he was on the West. Reluctantly, Nemstov returned to the negotiation table and agreed to surrender his claims on Noktundo and the Kuriles while still not recognising the FEK on July 18th 1995. Among the more eye-catching features of the deal was the transfer of a number of Pacific Fleet warships to the Baltic (whose voyage would mercifully be less tumultuous than the Baltic-Pacific passage of the Russo-Japanese War), as well as technical training and upkeep for the Baltic Navy performed by Japanese professionals. According to legend when the first Japanese advisor saw the state of one of the Baltic Fleet’s ships he threw up on the deck. With Kaliningrad signing off the Kuriles and Noktundo (to the propaganda coup of Petrograd and Stalingrad, as well as the embarrassed silence of Siberia), Japanese money and Korean guns. The angriest party in all of this was China, who now had to contend with South Korean troops along the northern border of North Korea, and an FEK army that could pack a serious punch. Locals in the Kuriles and Noktundo were given compensation packages if they wanted to leave, which many took if only in return for money for consistent food. The Kurile Islands in particular were soon a tense mix of Russians and many Japanese returning to their homes after the expulsion from World War 2. By 2020, however, the Russian population has dwindled and the island is overwhelmingly Japanese by race. A similar story prevails in Noktundo

    The FEK’s relationship with Japan and the ROK would only grow from there, and Vladivostok remains extremely close to Tokyo and Seoul even today. Cut off from Europe, the Far Easterners would slowly grow to see themselves as White people who were native to Asia. This sense of difference would reinforce social conservatism and strengthen the need to be pragmatic in their alliances. As a happy coincidence, Tokyo and Seoul’s relationship would significantly improve in coming years due to the mediation of Vladivostok in all their disputes. As their mutual common enemy of China would go from an abstract to a direct threat given their occupation of North Korea, Japan, and South Korea would gradually have a reconciliation. It was made manifest in Vladivostok in 2001 just before the World Cup began, as the two signed an agreement giving the Dokdo Island formally to Korea while the Comfort Women of World War 2 were suitably but quietly compensated. The Treaty of Vladivostok is considered a watershed moment in Asian history as a result, in many ways the moment Korea and Japan put aside all their historical differences to face the common enemy. In the pop culture sphere, the ‘cute and pure blonde Orthodox foreign-exchange girl’ has become one of the anime medium’s many bizarrely specific tropes (somehow or another usually ending up in Kabuchiko with zany consequences), and Slavic models from just next door regularly grace the catwalks of Tokyo and Seoul (usually being more provocative given the more restrictive rules in their home country).

    The Pacific Fleet loaded up their guns and put food in their stores in June, as they prepared to liberate the cities of the Pacific Coast. On the same day that the Americans landed in Salza-Gola, Sakhalin Island was liberated from semi-anarchy by FEK troops. On July 1st, Magadan and the surrounding towns were liberated from destitution and starvation, with the city at less than half of its pre-implosion size due to starvation and others desperately looking for food and looking for it in the countryside. This was when many of the first rumors about the new regime in Sakha started getting spread around, with many completely contradictory. Some talked rumours of human sacrifices, others of mass cannibalism, but no one had any proof as to what was going on or any second witness who could testify to the same thing. None of the phone lines were working, no radio messages were coming out of the region and many of the people who went looking supposedly never came back. As Magadan was reacquainted with outside supplies, thousands of near-skeletons began pouring into the city as a lifeline, but still no clear idea as to what was going on in Sakha. Finally, exasperated, the FEK would fly a reconnaissance plane from one of the decrepit aircraft carriers still in service in the fleet and sent them to look over the region to report what they saw in the cities. The report came back that there were no cars on the roads, no obvious collections of people, and the cities were dark at night. The main cities were all essentially intact, with one consistent exception: the churches were destroyed. At the same time, they did see a number of fires and lights inside forests and fields that did indeed look like human activity, reassuring some of the pessimists who feared a mass ritual suicide. At the same time the FEK still lacked the ability to go deep into Siberian territory, also focussed on securing the coast. Kamchatka would be totally seized by July 29th, with the entirety of the Pacific Coast of former Russia now de facto controlled by Vladivostok.

    Extract from 'One Soldier’s War in Russia' by Arkady Babchenko

    The third time. The third time we’d tried to break into the centre of Moscow after crossing the river, and the third time we’d failed. I was just referring to my own group; God knows how many attempts had been made up and down the river. I barely swam across the river back to our guys after our pontoon was smashed by a shell just as I was about to get on - one of the cadavers I was swimming past helpfully blocked a shot coming from the north side. I could taste his blood draining from his body in my mouth as I swam by him, then past the intestines of the guy who was unlucky enough to be three seconds ahead of me in the retreat. My hands were entangled in his intestines while he screamed on the edge of the pontoon. Emerging back on the other side, I slipped on the pathway, falling onto the blood-moist pavement. After another person ran over me, I desperately clawed my way back to my feet to ensure I wasn’t crushed, though thankfully most of the people fleeing behind me were already dead and I was spared again. I could hear Commissar Vladimir ordering us back, who had been lucky enough to be six seconds ahead of me instead of three. One can’t accuse him of cowardice for this, as Soviet custom says that when a Commisar shoots he must always shoot a man in the back.

    The basic result was that I lost my gun and ammunition. This was fine, as you could pick up an AK from one of the plentiful corpses, though you’d usually have to fish around for ammunition. This was annoying since my former AK had been a week’s work, but given that I’d lost count of the AKs used at this point it didn’t matter. I had given up all hope of being rotated or any of that nonsense. To me there was no life before the Battle of ‘Moscow’, or as it should be known, ‘The Battle of the Rubble of Moscow’. There was no home, family, even me that did not exist in this hellscape. I had a better imagination and grasp of the sensation of being dead than the sensation of being away from the war. I hoped and prayed that I was worthless, because the thought that my inevitable death would lead to the loss of something irreplaceable in this world was disconcerting. Far better to believe that I was precisely as worthless as my surroundings had led me to believe. I mattered as much as that chunk of rubble, that spent casing, that torn pavement. I looked at apartment blocks that had been blasted across several blocks when they were directly struck by a barrage of artillery to crush the people both within and below. Some of the corpses from December were still trapped there, rotting in the ruins of what had once been the centre of the world. I could smell them even from the street.

    Within five minutes of retreating back across the river, my heart rate was normal as the war had grown increasingly normal. I walked back to our base, which despite the roads often getting torn up and seemingly completely rearranged every week, could always be known to be close by the familiar crack of the executioners’ rifles. I had stopped even trying to make friends with my ‘comrades’, since one of us would probably be dead before we remembered each other’s name. Three of the ten people I’d been with at the meeting with Vladimir in the basement were now dead, those being the lucky ones. Two of the others were now amputees and expected to be put back into duty in the coming weeks while the others like me had completely lost their morality, minds and souls. We watched ‘deserters’ and ‘insubordinates’ at the back of the camp as they were killed. It became something to do when there was nothing to do. Some cried and fell to their knees, some screamed ‘wait!’ or ‘please!’ at the last second, and many just stared blankly as they stared into the darkness of the rifle barrel, or felt the cold of the pistol on the back of their heads. I knew for a fact if I was put in their positions it would have been that silence, given I’d seen certain death many times before and was used to it. It seemed I was cursed to survive every time.

    These executions had been ordered by Commander Surovikin. He was quite famous among the troops as he was repeatedly praised by the Red press for having flattened democracy protests with his tanks during the August Emergency of 1991. If only he’d crushed a few thousand more, they said, and then we could have returned to the glory days of Stalin. He’d used his position to great effect, with a face as ugly as his soul. He had beaten a teenage conscript to death in front of me with his pistol while bullying another so mercilessly that he committed suicide - a fact he was proud of and got him praise in the press too. [3] Obviously, the sort of person you wanted to follow. Why didn’t the Americans do this? They didn’t ritualistically sodomize, rape and torture their own troops, and look at how pathetic their results were! They only captured Grozny in a single day after we’d lost thousands! The only thing that gave me joy was knowing that due to his growing popularity, he would inevitably be hanged in public in Stalingrad for being a Nazi Zionist Tatar spy.

    Beside me was a Tatar woman about my age in a Red Army uniform, staring down at the ground in miserable depression. The black eye and clearly bitten lip was for all intents and purposes claimed property of at least one of the battalion. Ever since the army had reopened to women like in the days of the Patriotic War, it was a fucking horror show. Unlike us, the women were volunteers and had often never heard of what the culture of the army had been since the 60s. They thought it would be like the days of the Great Patriotic War, or at least, the war they showed us in those bullshit propaganda films. The army had suffered from a pandemic of abuse and rape of the younger males in the service for decades - the women had no idea what was coming. Unless they essentially became the property of one of the officers, she was considered free game to the entire battalion, and once they signed up there was no signing out. Not a single one of the female volunteers at our base looked anything but traumatised and miserable. No one even noticed anymore. We were all going to die here anyway, and the surroundings had proven there was no God to give out punishment and reward after death. Hope was scarcer than friendship.

    Every soldier feared rape, man or woman, boys too. But the ethnic minority women were particularly vulnerable, since they knew they were dead if the Fascists took them and consequently volunteered to fight to survive, only to be picked out and even traded between the commanders to be abused. I immediately knew that there was nothing I could do for her. If I spoke up, I’d die. If I killed her abuser, I’d die (maybe my family too) and then she’d get transferred to another commander who would do the same thing. If we tried to run, we’d either be caught by the Reds and shot for being cowards, caught by the Fascists and shot for being subhumans and race-mixers (the RNU was compared to the Nashis a more certain but quicker death), or most likely starve in agony in the Russian countryside to be eaten by passers by. There was no escape, except in death. All roads lead to death, with alternating amounts of agony on the way.

    As Vladimir sat beside me on my other side, he once again started cleaning his pistol.

    “Strong progress today, comrade,” he said without using my name because he never remembered any of our expendable names. “We made it a block farther than before. Next time we’ll build a stable bridgehead and begin the push into the centre of Moscow.”

    I nodded emotionlessly. If he had told me he fucked my mother and shat in her mouth, I would have made the same reaction.

    “This is a great time in our history to be alive,” he continued. “We were born too late to have rode with Nevsky upon the ice, or to charge across the fields at the glorious defeat of Borodino, or to have stormed the Reichstag in 1945, but we were alive in time to save Moscow from the Fascists again. We will get to be a part of the great history of Russian civilization.”

    Part of? The only thing we were part of was its downfall, its annihilation, its departure from humanity. I wondered, thinking of the slaughter and rape of everyone from toddlers to old women born in the 1800s that I’d seen in this hellish shithole, whether there would be a single human being left alive in Russia by 2000? Certainly no one left here would be fit to participate in human civilisation, myself more so than anyone else. Alexander the Empty-space Conqueror, the Jesus-Freaks, even Nemtsov might take the place back before the locals remember he’s a Jew, but would there be anything worth taking back? Not just of worth but at all? Apart from those still barely living as emaciated shadows of their former selves, shuddering in the rubble of strangers’ abandoned homes, arms laced with their own bite marks? The only hope of ‘Russian Civilisation’ was hundreds of miles from us. It now existed in the young child refugees, of whom the last parts of my soul prayed would barely remember this portal to hell. They were Russia’s last hope, and as I saw trembling and frightened boys who’d probably never even had their first kiss huddle in the corners of the camp before the commanders beat them half to death and shove their bleeding and bruised bodies into the firing line, I wished that if they ever came back, it would be to exact revenge on all the monsters of this war, even if that included me.

    “You will remember these days as the time of your life, comrade,” Vladimir told me without looking at me. “I was made in the USSR, you will be made in the Russian Soviet Republic, but your children will be made in the USSR as well.”

    For the first time that day, I felt truly disgusted. Of all the sins I could possibly commit in this war, there would be no evil worse than to bring a child into this inferno. To not show an emotion that would lead to my brain leaking through my blasted skull in the nearby gutter, I thought about the other line: ‘Made in the USSR.’ What a line. In fact, this whole war, this whole society truly was the embodiment of the Soviet Union. As I looked all around the site of executed bodies on the ground, trafficking victims with the marks of their abusers amidst destroyed buildings and a grey, poisoned sky, I saw Vladimir continue to clean his pistol as if this was the most normal thing in the world. This is what it was to be made in the USSR: the indifference to individual life. His life didn’t matter, her life didn’t matter, even the kids didn’t matter. We were nothing but numbers on a page, a digit in a calculator, a raw ingredient no more intrinsically meaningful than a grain of sand. We surrendered our rights in return for a utopia in 1917, and then when there was no utopia, we didn’t get our rights back. The West had it wrong. They thought Communism was an economic thing. They thought it was Communism vs Capitalism, and that once you removed the Communist economy the love of democracy would arise in their place. But they were wrong. Communism was not economic, or even political, it was philosophical; a philosophy of worthlessness. Of my worthlessness. Of my father’s worthlessness, my mother’s worthlessness. We were not negatives that had to be obliterated, as the Fascists believed of the ones they termed subhumans, but we were all equally worthless, the simplest (and perhaps only) form of equality it is possible to achieve. It had manifested in all the Vranyo [lies] we told each other at work, school and the army. The lines we jumped, the bribes we paid, the utter difference to whether anyone outside our family lived or died because our families were having a hard enough time living or dying. This was the fruit of a lifetime of Communism: an incurably corrupt, backstabbing and dishonest culture, whose acolytes robbed its children of their innocence, preying upon and corrupting them, reproducing like vampires.

    And yet as I pondered this, I pondered if there was something else in this world. I began to get a notion that felt like the me of many years ago may have believed once. The notion that I, me, was not just a piece of worthless meat to be blasted to pieces in suicide charges that only existed to show the Politburo that we weren’t just sitting around and jerking off. The notion that neither me nor the girl I sat beside deserved to be beaten and raped in the bombed-out latrines beside a mound of corpses in the pile of rubble formerly known as Moscow. The notion that there was something wrong, objectively wrong, with the joy of suffering and pain. Indeed, it was the notion that there was something in me that was beautiful, eternal, and that mattered. That in her was something that was beautiful, eternal and mattered. The notion that I could love, could be loved, and that there was something that was important in the concept of ‘love’ at all. The notion that beauty was real, and that just perhaps, I could find it.

    I looked at the bodies, the misery, the rubble.


    Nothing at all.

    Maybe the Communists were right. Maybe I was made in the USSR too.

    “Oh, yes, comrade?” said Vladimir, the subject finally serious enough to raise his eyes from cleaning his pistol, “I’ll need your help bringing in some boxes later today. Though it goes without saying the contents are a state secret, you’ll be given a protective suit. Make sure not to drop it, otherwise you’ll kill more people than just yourself.”

    [1] - An amusing person to read up on. Despite the pleasant and friendly stadium-vibe of the song in question, it is not a ‘peace and brotherhood’ song, but as you read about the singer you realise it’s very much a ‘we own you’ song. Gazmanov is famous for being one of the most imperialistic performers in Russia (going as far as to do concerts in support of the ‘SMO’, for which he is under EU sanction), having made songs that are so imperialistic that it almost resembles Starship Troopers. He frequently does performances in military uniform despite the fact he skipped service in a country with ‘mandatory’ military enlistment - given BTS paused to do their service in South Korea, they are genuinely more masculine than he is.

    [2] This is how Basayev died OTL. An anticlimactic but fittingly unheroic end to the man who committed Beslan.

    [3] He actually did this.
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